Coast's amazing recovery

The oil slick at Marcoola Beach, and volunteers and Coast Care members rescue and relocate turtle eggs and hatchlings.
The oil slick at Marcoola Beach, and volunteers and Coast Care members rescue and relocate turtle eggs and hatchlings.

It was the worst environmental disaster the Coast has seen.

But visitors arriving on the North Shore in the last couple of days could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about, such has been the success of the oil spill clean-up by council staff and volunteers.

The Sunshine Coast council expects to have all Coast beaches open by this weekend.

The drama started early last Wednesday morning when up to 250 tonnes of oil leaked from the Pacific Adventurer as it was battered by the edge of Cyclone Hamish off Moreton Island.

The cargo ship also lost 31 containers filled with 620 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser, believed to have sunk in 130 metres of water.

Though Moreton Island suffered the worst of the spill, oil reached as far north as Mt Coolum and south to Currimundi, blackening beaches and killing wildlife.

The council responded quickly with heavy machinery to remove the oil-stained sand, but, much to mayor Bob Abbot’s dismay, was then directed by the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the heavy machinery and clean up with rakes and shovels.

The EPA’s directive was then countermanded by sustainability minister John McKell.

But this decision was later overridden by John McKell, the minister responsible for Maritime Safety Queensland.

But while the government’s handling of the clean-up has been the subject of much debate, the council and volunteers have been applauded for their prompt action and tireless efforts.

More than 200 council staff and SES personnel worked up to three shifts a day and volunteers rescued and relocated turtle eggs and hatchlings and helped clean up oil-covered wildlife.

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