Aussie Oil Spill 10 Times Worse Than Thought

Government blamed for slow response to disaster
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2009 4:17 PM CDT
Blackened water caused by the oil spill is seen on the beach on Moreton Island near Brisbane, Australia, Friday, March 13, 2009.   (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
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(Newser) – The oil spill that’s polluting beaches along the northeast coast of Australia is 10 times worse than originally thought, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Officials now say that about 253 tons of oil leaked from a Hong Kong ship on Wednesday, damaging dozens of beaches that span 37 miles in what has been declared a disaster area, BBC says.

Today workers began the clean-up effort, which could last a month and cost the ship’s owners more than $1 million. “We’re devastated,” said a resident. Others expressed concern for the area’s marine life and one official blasted the government for getting “caught short.” Meanwhile, 661 tons of fertilizer lost by the ship remains missing. “That’s a big worry,” said one business owner.