From: ABC News
Published March 13, 2009 11:15 AM

Oil-Soaked Australian Beaches Named Disaster Zones

Authorities declared a disaster zone Friday along a stretch of some of Australia's most pristine and popular beaches after tons of fuel oil that leaked from a stricken cargo ship blackened the creamy white sand for miles.

The government of northeastern Queensland state denied it had acted too slowly to stop an environmental disaster, and threatened the shipping company with a multimillion-dollar compensation lawsuit.

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National parks at Moreton and Bribie islands just north of the state capital of Brisbane were worst hit by oil spilled from the container ship Pacific Adventurer on Wednesday, and oil washed ashore in pockets along the popular Sunshine Coast.

The potential for long-term environmental damage was not clear. The affected area is far to the south of the Great Barrier Reef, which was not under threat.

Wildlife authorities said the only animal victims so far were a handful of birds that had been soaked in oil, but warned things could get worse as long as the slick remained.

Article Continues:http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=7073385

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