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The spillage of 200,000 liters of fuel and diesel oil, and the loss into the environment of 31 containers of ammonium nitrate, was the worst environmental disaster to ever strike Queensland. The incident provided opportunities for government, disaster agencies, and the shipping company to review procedures and find out what went wrong.

Swire Shipping, Australian authorities, and eventually Australian courts, will decide whether the ship’s captain erred in judgement when he elected to continue sailing when a Category 5 cyclone was in his path. Ship’s procedures for securing cargo will be reviewed, as it was reported that loose cargo knocked the shipping containers off the deck.

Reporting systems for at-sea accidents will be investigated. The initial report of only a 20-ton spill resulted in an inadequate first response by cleanup crews, which was increased only when the true figure of 250 tons was revealed.

An ammonium nitrate spill of this magnitude, in such sensitive and productive waters, is without precedent, and study continues to see what damage occurs, if any. Ammonium nitrate is soluble in water, and authorities surmise that the mixed currents will effectively dilute and disperse the fertilizer. However, they keep watch for algae blooms resulting from the accident.