Cargo ship changes name after Sunshine Coast spill

Fuel and ammonium nitrate washed up on Buddina Beach as a result of the oil slick which escaped from the Pacific Adventurer. Photo / Supplied
Fuel and ammonium nitrate washed up on Buddina Beach as a result of the oil slick which escaped from the Pacific Adventurer. Photo / Supplied

The cargo ship behind one of Australia's worst environmental disasters has been given a new name.

The Pacific Adventurer, now known as the Pacific Mariner, is taking cargo from New Zealand to the Middle East.

The ship, pounded by Cyclone Hamish, spilled 270 tonnes of fuel oil and 31 containers of ammonium nitrate into Moreton Bay in March. The oil washed up on Moreton Island beaches and along the Sunshine Coast.

A spokesman for the ship's owners Swire Shipping said the renaming was a commercial decision.

"It was renamed the Pacific Mariner because it received worldwide negative publicity as a result of the accidental oil spill during Cyclone Hamish," the spokesman said.

"It is not uncommon in the shipping industry to rename a ship when it goes into dry dock before subsequently being redeployed."

The Pacific Adventurer's captain at the time of the accident, Bernardino Santos, is due to reappear in a Brisbane court later this month charged with one count of discharging oil into Queensland waters.

Company executives are due to hold talks with Premier Anna Bligh later this month over compensation.

The Swire spokesman said the company was awaiting the results of the talks with Ms Bligh, as well as transport safety investigations and an audit of compensation claims before it could put a figure on how much it would pay out.

"Usually there's a process to check all the claims before the insurance company, or whoever is going to pay, will pay," he said.

"All the issues are still up in air.

"But they have already agreed to pay beyond their insurance limit."

The insurance limit has been estimated at A$14.5 million ($18.2 million).

Ms Bligh admitted at the weekend there was little the Government could do in terms of legal action to recover the full cost of the clean-up, estimated at A$34 million.

But she said if there was any chance Queensland could recoup the money through the courts, such a claim would go ahead.

The fishing industry is also considering legal action, claiming the spill affected consumer confidence and impacted on wholesalers and retailers.

- AAP

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