Australia cleans oil spill as turtles head to lay eggs

Canberra, Oct 19 (IANS) Ahead of hundreds of female turtles making their way to Australia’s world-heritage Fraser Island in a few weeks’ time to lay eggs, the Queensland state government is working overtime to clean-up an oil spill that occurred earlier in the week.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Head of Ocean Richard Leck told Xinhua news agency on Wednesday that it was unfortunate that an oil spill happened at the island so close before hundreds of turtles head to the area to lay their eggs.

“It’s about the biggest natural event in the year,” Leck said referring to the female turtles.

The rangers first discovered the “oil patties” scattered around the island shores late on Monday afternoon and authorities have been swift in taking remedial action to clean up the oil spill.

Queensland State Minister for Main Roads and Ports Mark Bailey on Wednesday said Maritime Safety Queensland, Roadtek, Queensland Parks, Wildlife Service and the Queensland Police Service have been assessing the area since Tuesday with more help from relevant authorities underway.

Meanwhile, Queensland State Environment Minister Steven Miles said the oil patties were dispersed mildly along about 60 km of high tide line from the wreck of the Maheno to Dilli Village.

“Experience has shown the best way to clean-up the beach is to remove the patties by rake and shovel,” Miles said.

“This minimises the impact on the environment and reduces the amount of additional sand collected.

“This can be a time-consuming and physically demanding process and we have ensured we have sufficient personnel to work on rotation to get the job done,” Miles said, adding that there were no reports of wildlife being affected by the event.

The last oil spillage incident occurred in July 2015, when 10 to 15 tonnes of oil was spilled off Cape Upstart, a National park in Queensland.



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