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australian media is attacking china on this issue. china and australia is experiencing a relatively tough period after the rio tinto issue. it seems that australia sill cannot forget china over the issue and found another chance to criticize china. it's sure the chinese ship's fault to pollute barrier reef, but don't highlight it with other irrelative issues, such as comparing the ship with a time bomb on the sea.|
south china morning post
The Shenzhen owners of a ship that ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef causing an environmental crisis admitted on Friday that the vessel was off course and apologised for the accident.
The owners broke their silence as Australian authorities began pumping nearly 1,000 tonnes of fuel from the coal carrier that hit a coral reef a week ago to prevent it spilling more oil in the world heritage area.
Shenzhen Energy Transport, which owns the stricken Shen Neng 1, said it was “sorry for the accident”, which it said happened after the ship failed to turn as planned as it sailed from the Australian port of Gladstone to China.
"The vessel did not alter course to the east to go through the passage as planned, and as a consequence the vessel ran aground on Douglas Shoal,” said Hu Wei, Shenzhen Energy Transport’s chief of shipping and development.
"We appreciate the environmental and economic significance of the Great Barrier Reef,” he said after the ship leaked about three tonnes of fuel oil, creating a slick three kilometres long.
"We are fully committed to cooperating with and assisting the authorities to minimise any environmental damage and to ensure the matter is resolved safely and quickly,” Hu said in a statement.
The captain of the ship, that was carrying 68,000 tonnes of coal, provoked anger in Australia earlier this week by claiming the oil spill caused when it hit the shoal was not serious.
But his bosses on Friday vowed to work closely with investigators and maritime authorities, as the Australian Federal Police confirmed the case had been referred to the force for a possible criminal investigation.
Beijing was paying close attention to the incident and was concerned about possible pollution to the Great Barrier Reef, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a press briefing.
Maritime officials on Friday began the fraught operation of pumping the remaining 950 tonnes of fuel oil off the ship ahead of attempts to dislodge it from the shoal in the world famous marine park.
Booms were set up around the ship to catch any additional oil that may spill while fuel is being transferred and wildlife experts were on standby to rush to the rescue of any marine creatures caught in a slick.
"This is a delicate operation that will take days, not hours,” said Patrick Quirk of Maritime Safety Queensland, which is overseeing the salvage attempt off the coast of the eastern Australian state.
Fuel will be pumped on to a 50-metre barge, which can carry up to 1,500 tonnes of oil.
Chemical dispersants were used to break up the initial spill and tugboats have been sent to hold the ship steady and stop it grinding across the reef.
Officials said the risks of the ship breaking up were decreasing and the salvors had placed monitoring equipment on the hull which showed it was holding together.
But Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned that the removal of oil would be a complex operation and the crisis had not yet passed.
"This is going to take a lot of time, a lot of technical precision and hard work and it’s a very difficult situation still with no absolute guarantee of success,” he told reporters.
China is Australia’s top trading partner.