Thursday, April 29, 2010


(Hellertown, Pa.) Wale Environmental recently announced Penn Allen Glass as its new sister company. As of April 5, Penn Allen relocated its management, sales, and support team to Wale Environmental’s office in Hellertown, Pa.
Penn Allen Glass Company is a wholesale distributor and fabricator of architectural flat glass, mirrors, acrylic glazing material and related supplies. The company has over 60 years of experience in the glass industry, and it is the third generation of family ownership.
Penn Allen’s warehousing, fabrication, and distribution will continue to operate in its Allentown location while its new fabrication facility is being built.
Director Operations for Wale Environmental, Michelle Johnson commented, “It’s an exciting opportunity to work with Penn Allen.” She continued, “They are a reputable company with a great deal of experience.”
Johnson stated that the joining of the companies would also help to expand Environmental’s product offerings. She said “Our [Wale Environmental] environmental products are perfect for glass shops.”
Wale Environmental is a distributor of specialized ecological products for oil spill response and personal safety needs. Products range from absorbents, safety gloves, oil spill containment equipment, etc. It is a family owned business that prides itself on providing prompt and courteous service.

You can visit the Wale Environmental website at
Item of the Day:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


(Hellertown, Pa.) Wale Environmental recently introduced two new maintenance products: Spill-Medic™ Absorbent Bio-Remedial Powder and Spill-Medic™ Liquid. The Spill-Medic™ products are affordable and easy to apply because there is no mixing required. The formulas eliminate surface contamination from drips, spills, and other low impact releases. This easily applied liquid formula seeks out fuel oil, diesel, gasoline, motor oil, ethyl benzene, phenols, etc…, and digests them quickly and efficiently.
Spill-Medic™ Absorbent Bio-Remedial Powder absorbs and dries spills on hard surfaces up to 100 times faster than competitor absorbents. The product dries within a few minutes, and can be immediately swept up to remove residue. Spill-Medic™ Absorbent Bio-Remedial Powder can also be spread on soil, sand, and gravel and left to remediate the contaminated surface. Even rainwater and melting snow will activate its bio-remediating properties.
Spill-Medic™ Liquid can be applied using any pump-up type of garden sprayer. This formula also requires no mixing and can be applied by simply wetting the surface thoroughly.
Both products feature bio-remediating properties to digest hydrocarbon contamination, and each safely converts contaminants to CO2 and H2O. Additionally, the formulas are safe, non-toxic, odorless, and they also contain no chemicals or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which mean the products are even safe to use around pets and wildlife.
Wale Environmental is a distributor of specialized ecological products for oil spill response and personal safety needs. Products range from absorbents, safety gloves, oil spill containment equipment, etc. It is a family owned business that prides itself on providing prompt and courteous service.
Item of the Day: 3M Full Face Respirator

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day is Pay Day

So strong was the anti-business sentiment for the first Earth Day in 1970 that organizers took no money from corporations and held teach-ins “to challenge corporate and government leaders.”

Forty years later, the day has turned into a premier marketing platform for selling a variety of goods and services, like office products, Greek yogurt and eco-dentistry.

For this year’s celebration, Bahama Umbrella is advertising a specially designed umbrella, with a drain so that water “can be stored, reused and recycled.” Gray Line, a New York City sightseeing company, will keep running its buses on fossil fuels, but it is promoting an “Earth Week” package of day trips to green spots like the botanical gardens and flower shopping at Chelsea Market.

F. A. O. Schwarz is taking advantage of Earth Day to showcase Peat the Penguin, an emerald-tinted plush toy that, as part of the Greenzys line, is made of soy fibers and teaches green lessons to children. The penguin, Greenzys promotional material notes, “is an ardent supporter of recycling, reusing and reducing waste.”

To many pioneers of the environmental movement, eco-consumerism, creeping for decades, is intensely frustrating and detracts from Earth Day’s original purpose.

“This ridiculous perverted marketing has cheapened the concept of what is really green,” said Denis Hayes, who was national coordinator of the first Earth Day and is returning to organize this year’s activities in Washington. “It is tragic.”

Yet the eagerness of corporations to sign up for Earth Day also reflects the environmental movement’s increased tolerance toward corporate America: Many “big greens,” as leading environmental advocacy organizations are known, now accept that they must take money from corporations or at the least become partners with them if they are to make real inroads in changing social behavior.

This year, in an updated version of a teach-in, Greenpeace will team up with technology giants like Cisco and Google to hold a Web seminar focused on how the use of new technologies like videoconferencing and “cloud” computing can reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. Daniel Kessler, a spokesman for Greenpeace, said it was necessary to “promote a counterweight to the fossil fuel industry.”

In 1970, Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York addressed a crowd of tens of thousands in Union Square on Earth Day, in an atmosphere The New York Times likened to a “secular revival meeting.”

This year, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will be in Times Square to announce measures to reduce New York’s impact on the environment. Using the same stage, Keep America Beautiful, an anti-littering nonprofit organization, will introduce “dream machines,” recycling kiosks it is introducing with PepsiCo. The machines are meant to increase the recycling rates for beverage containers, which is estimated at about 36 percent nationwide.

Of course, a fair portion of the more than 200 billion beverage containers produced in the United States each year are filled with PepsiCo products like Mountain Dew and Aquafina; such bottle trash contributes to serious pollution on beaches, oceans and inland waterways.

Still, Matthew M. McKenna, president and chief executive of Keep America Beautiful, and a former PepsiCo senior vice president, said he jumped at the opportunity to have his former employer introduce its new kiosk at the event.

“We are not being asked to encourage the purchase of Pepsi or the consumption of their products,” he said. “We are asked to deal in the field with what happens when they get thrown out.”

While the momentum for the first Earth Day came from the grass roots, many corporations say that it is often the business community that now leads the way in environmental innovation — and they want to get their customers interested. In an era when the population is more divided on the importance of environmental issues than it was four decades ago, the April event offers a rare window, they say, when customers are game to learn about the environmentally friendly changes the companies have made.

Frank Sherman, United States green officer for TD Bank, said the company hurried to get its prototype of a highly energy-efficient bank branch building in Queens ready for Earth Day because that’s when “people are paying attention.”

The original Earth Day events were attended by 20 million Americans — to this day among the largest participation in a political action in the nation’s history.

This year, while the day will be widely marked with events, including a climate rally on the Mall in Washington, the movement does not have the same support it had four decades ago.

In part, said Robert Stone, a independent documentary filmmaker whose history of the American environmental movement is being broadcast on public television this week, the movement has been a victim of its own success in clearing up tangible problems with air and water. But that is just part of the problem, he noted.

“Every Earth Day is a reflection of where we are as a culture,” he said. “If it has become commoditized, about green consumerism instead of systemic change, then it is a reflection of our society.”

- Leslie Kaufman, New York Times

Wale Environmental serves both the industry, the commercial, and residential consumers for their green product needs. Visit our website at
Item of the Day - Economy Anti-fog Goggles

Monday, April 19, 2010

Volcanic Ash Still Hampering Travel in Europe

(CNN) -- Here are the latest highlights regarding problems for air travel caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

New developments:

• The volcano is continuing to erupt, but the ash is not as dense as it was over the weekend, said Urdur Gunnarsdottir, a media officer at the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management in Iceland. Saturday was the worst day so far in terms of ash, she said.

• "There cannot be any compromise on safety" when deciding when to open European airspace, said Siim Kallas, the European Commission vice president in charge of transport, as some airlines press to be allowed to fly.

The decision "must be based on science," he said.

Airlines cannot apply directly to the European Union for bailout funds, he added -- national governments must be the ones to make the request.


• About 8,000 to 9,000 flights are expected to take off Monday in European airspace, according to traffic authority Eurocontrol. About 28,000 flights take place on most Mondays.
Video: Family stranded in Calais
Video: Family separated by ash
Video: 'Search terms' for stranded travelers
Video: How long will delays last?

* Air Travel
* Travel and Tourism
* Transportation
* Western Europe

• European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso ordered formation of a group to study the effect of the volcanic ash cloud on the European economy and the air travel industry.

• Airports have lost close to 136 million euros ($184 million U.S.) so far, said Olivier Jankovec, director general of Airports Council International Europe, a group that represents airports. More than 6.8 million passengers have been affected, he said.

• EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said Sunday that if the ash cloud continues "moving as it moves, then tomorrow, almost 50 percent of European [Union] space will be risk free." That would allow more flights to resume, he said. "But we'll see [Monday] what the picture shows."

Are you stranded because of flight issues? Share your story with CNN

• The disruption is costing airlines at least $200 million a day in lost revenues, said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association. an industry trade group. He told CNN on Monday that if flight restrictions continue, some small- and medium-sized airlines could be put in jeopardy.

• The International Air Transport Association criticized European governments "for their lack of leadership in handling airspace restrictions" and "urged a re-think of the decision-making process" for closing European skies.

• About 5,000 flights took off Sunday in European airspace, according to Eurocontrol. About 24,000 flights take place on most Sundays.

• Results of test flights show "there's no impact" in European Union airspace from the volcanic ash that has disrupted air travel this week, according to Diego Lopez Garrido, the European Union's secretary of state.


• Austrian airspace, including all Austrian airports, reopened at 5 a.m. local time Monday (11 p.m. ET Sunday), said the Austrian aviation agency Austro Control. It will continue to monitor the situation and has not ruled out another closure in the coming hours.


• Flights into and out of St. John's, Gander and Deer Lake, Newfoundland, may be affected by volcanic activity, AirCanada said.


• There will be no flights in Danish airspace before 2 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) Monday.


• There will be no flights in or out of Finnish airports before 6 p.m. (11a.m. ET) on Monday.


• Paris' Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will remain closed until 8 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) Tuesday by order of the French Civil Aviation Authority, Air France said on its Web site late Saturday.

• France reopened airports in Toulouse, Montpellier, Pau, Tarbes, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Nice, and Marseilles until 3 p.m. Monday (9 a.m. ET), when the situation will be reassessed.

• Air France is busing passengers from de Gaulle to airports in the south of the country.

• It plans to have seven flights leave France on Monday: six from Toulouse airport, and one from Pau.

• It also hopes to have nine nine flights fly into France on Monday, into airports in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nice and Marseilles.

• The French national rail company SNCF is adding 80,000 extra places on the Eurostar high-speed trains running from Paris to London this week. Tickets will cost a special fare of 96 euros (about $130) round trip, less than half the normal last-minute price.


• The flight ban over Germany has been extended to 8 p.m. local time Monday (2 p.m. ET) and applies to all airports in the country, the German aviation safety authority said.


• Ireland extended its airspace closure through 1 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) Monday and said restrictions past then were "likely" in light of current weather forecasts.


• The airspace in northern Italy is closed until 8 a.m. local time Tuesday ( 2.m. ET), the country's civil aviation authority said. Airspace throughout the rest of the country opened at 7 a.m. Monday (1 a.m. ET), but the situation remains fluid with officials checking how long it can remain open, the civil aviation authority said.


• The airspace over Oslo airport (Gardermoen), and Kjevik, Torp and Rygge airports opened Monday.


• About half the airspace in Poland is open, but that over Krakow remains closed, an airport official in the historic city said Monday.


• Flights have been delayed and canceled at 10 Russian international airports, mostly in the European part of the country, the transport ministry said.

• Moscow's international Sheremetyevo airport has been affected by far more than others: 277 cancelled flights and 59 delayed, with more than 28,000 people stranded.

• Throughout Russia, 411 flights were canceled and 77 delayed, affecting more than 34,000 passengers, the Russian transport ministry said.


• All 16 airports in Spain were scheduled to reopen at 3:30 p.m. Sunday (9:30 a.m. ET) -- several hours earlier than previously expected, the government announced.


• The airspace north and west of the flight corridor from Stockholm to Gothenburg opened Monday morning. The airspace around Bromma Airport has also opened.


• Switzerland is not permitting flights before 2 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) Monday, the government said.


• Thai Airways, based in Bangkok, estimates the cloud is costing the airline $3 million a day and has stranded 6,000 of its passengers.

The Netherlands

• A spokeswoman for KLM, one of the airlines that conducted test flights, told CNN the flights show European airspace is safe, with the exception of Iceland.

United Arab Emirates

• Emirates airline says the disruption has already cost it $50 million.

United Kingdom

• The British Royal Navy is deploying two ships, HMS Ocean and HMS Ark Royal, to rescue travelers stranded by the ash, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced. It's not clear where the ships are now or how long it would take them to get to their destinations, the Ministry of Defense said.

• Restrictions across British airspace will remain in effect until at least 1 a.m. Tuesday (8 p.m. ET Monday).

• British Airways canceled all flights in and out of London on Sunday and Monday, the airline announced.

Other countries

• There are restrictions on civil flights across most of northern and central Europe. This swath includes Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

- By the CNN Wire Staff
Item of the Day: DRC Disposable Paper Wipers

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Make sure your local oil companies follow correct oil spill procedures. Blog us at
Item of the Day - Power Scrub Hand Cleaner

Friday, April 16, 2010

Before you click and check out the "Midway" gallery, think about the times where you've carelessly littered.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Volcanic ash clouds cancel many North European Flights

LONDON -- A plume of volcanic ash from Iceland hovering over Northern Europe severely disrupted air travel for hundreds of thousands of airline passengers Thursday as authorities shut down airspace in Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia.

An ash cloud has drifted from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, which erupted on Wednesday for the second time in a month. The volcano is still spewing ash into the air, and authorities said they did not know when the airspace would reopen.

All non-emergency flights to and from British airports were banned from noon until at least 6 p.m. local time (1 p.m. in Washington). Swedish authorities said they would shut their airspace from 10 p.m. local time. Ireland, Denmark, Norway, and Finland also announced they would shut down their airspace, according to the Associated Press.

Steve Bond, lecturer in aircraft operations and air safety at City University London, said that there are two main problems with volcanic ash: it cannot be detected by the aircraft's weather radar, and if sucked into the turbines, the corrosive, glass-like particles can cause engine failure. He said that once the volcano stops erupting, it could take at least another two days before airspace restrictions are lifted.

"This is the first time in Europe where we have had significant disruption like this, and it's interesting to see how well the industry has reacted to it," said Bond. "Very quickly the whole system recognized the problem and followed guidelines."

The restriction of flights from Heathrow, one of the world's busiest airports, will affect dozens of flights to and from the United States and other hubs around the world. British Airways said on its Web site that customers booked on a canceled flight could re-book or claim a full refund.

The six-hour restrictions on British airspace were imposed by Britain's National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and could be extended, a spokeswoman said. Experts said the ash cloud could drift as far as Germany by Thursday afternoon.

"Volcanic ash is a serious problem for aircraft, and there are few historical precedents here," said NATS spokeswoman Taylor Samuelson. "It's nothing we're going to take any risks on." She added: "No one knows when the ash is going to go. The volcano is still going." .

Civil aviation experts cite two famous examples of volcanic ash disrupting flights. In both, fatalities were narrowly averted.

In 1982, a British Airways jumbo jet flew through an ash cloud over Indonesia, causing all four engines to flame out. After plummeting thousands of feet, the flight crew managed to restart the engines and land the plane safely in Jakarta. In 1989, a KLM jet flew through an ash cloud from Alaska's Redoubt volcano, once again causing all of the jet engines to fail. After a five-minute descent, the engines were restarted and the plane landed safely; however, the plane was severely damaged.

The eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano on Wednesday sent hundreds of people in southwestern Iceland fleeing from their homes, fearing flash floods. The volcano, which resides under a glacier, dramatically roared back to life on March 20 after nearly 200 years of dormancy.

- Karla Adam for the Washington Post.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Our First Press Release!

Chinese Oil Ship Refloated by Australia

SYDNEY -- Australian authorities refloated a huge Chinese ship on Monday that had been stranded on the Great Barrier Reef for over a week after running aground, averting a potential environmental crisis.

Emergency workers successfully moved the 750-foot Shen Neng 1 coal carrier without adding to the two-ton oil spill that spread a two-mile slick after the ship crashed on April 3.

The general manager of Marine Safety Queensland, Patrick Quirk, confirmed that no more oil had been lost and said the ship was being towed to an area east of Great Keppel Island, Australian news agency AAP reported.

"The refloat was a success. Salvors spent an hour and a half assessing the vessel's stability and watching for any evidence of further oil spills," he said. "Our intention has always been to keep oil loss to a minimum so we could take it to safe anchorage."

Emergency workers had pumped most of the 970 tons of heavy fuel oil from the vessel before they were forced to rush the after-dark refloating due to approaching stormy weather and high seas. Once the ship has been safely anchored, divers will inspect its hull so that a decision can be made on its future movement, Quirk said.

Australia's transport minister has accused the ship's crew of taking an illegal route at the heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, by far the world's biggest, and said prosecutors would be "throwing the book" at those responsible. The ship strayed about 15 nautical miles from the recognized shipping lane before ploughing into Douglas Shoal at full speed, sustaining heavy damage.

Australian officials immediately promised to investigate allegations that ships were taking shortcuts through the giant reef, which sprawls along 1,800 miles of coast and is a major tourist attraction.

On Monday, three crew members from another large carrier appeared in court on charges of entering a restricted part of the reef without permission, and were bailed to reappear on Friday. South Korean Gang Chun Han, the 63-year-old master of the Panama-flagged MV Mimosa, and Vietnam's Tran Tan Thanh and Nguyen Van Sang face maximum fines of $205,000.

Conservationists say the incidents highlight the risk to Australia's environment posed by rocketing resource exports to Asia, which are fuelling a strong recovery from the global financial crisis.

The reef, which is visible from space and is one of the world's foremost ecological treasures, has already come under pressure from rising sea temperatures and pollution.

The government of the northeastern state of Queensland on Monday announced dramatically increased penalties for oil spills on the Great Barrier Reef, including fines of up to $10 million.

The accident comes after a ruptured cargo ship leaked 70,000 gallons onto Queensland beaches last March. In August, a well platform caught fire, dumping 28,000 barrels of oil into the seas off northern Australia.

-- Agence-France Presse

Wale Environmental has products, available for both commercial and residential customers, that combat the worst conditions, including oil spills. Check out our website at for more.
Item of the Day: Atlas Fit Gloves

Monday, April 12, 2010

Environmentalists: Economists are on your Side

There is a tendency among some environmental writers to dismiss “classical”, “traditional”, “neoliberal”, or “mainstream” economics as somehow inimical to environmental interests.

The problem is that more often than not these writers get the facts wrong.

It’s almost as if the knee-jerk aversion to economics that exists among many environmentalists prevents them from acknowledging the truth: that mainstream economics is very much on their side. While criticizing economics may help them polish their leftist credentials and demonstrate the contrarian-independent thinking that grabs headlines, it ultimately leads to sloppy thinking.

Case in point are recent pieces by David Roberts of Grist and Bill McKibben in The New Republic (for the record: I respect both authors and they do good work).

McKibben describes how the Waxman-Markey climate change bill is full of loopholes for special interests (which it is), and uses this as evidence against the basic economic rationale for a cap and trade bill. He then praises the new CLEAR bill sponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins for its fairness, lack of loopholes, and simplicity. He suggests that it represents a significant departure from traditional economics—the subtitle of his piece is “Forget Cap and Trade”—when in fact the bill is nothing but a cap and trade bill with full auctions and consumer rebates.

The CLEAR bill represents a policy that mainstream environmental economists—from Robert Stavins (Harvard) to Michael Hanemann (UC-Berkeley)—have advocated in one form or another for well over a decade; it is what I have taught and advocated in graduate school every semester for the past seven years.

CLEAR is superior to the Waxman-Markey bill not because it deviates from the prescriptions of classical environmental economics, but because it adheres to them so closely.

Now for the relatively recent David Roberts piece, “Economics as Pathology”, in Grist (one of dozens of pieces over the years where Roberts lambasts mainstream economics). Roberts slams “neoliberal” economics for its insistence on rationality as the guiding principle for human activity; since people don’t act rationally all of the time, Roberts believes this insistence has hampered the search for solutions to climate change.

Roberts, for all of his excellent contributions to the climate change debate, insists on a myopic and caricaturized version of economics that simply doesn’t exist. Even the leaders of the behavioral economics revolution that he admires so much are all mainstream economists in the world’s leading institutions—e.g. Sendil Mullinathan of MIT, Richard Thaler at the University of Chicago, and Matthew Rabin at UC-Berkeley.

In fact, the leading proponents of decisive action on climate change are as mainstream as they come: William Norhaus (Yale), Paul Krugman (Princeton), Martin Weitzman (Harvard), and even Gregory Mankiw (Harvard, former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Bush). All are extremely prestigious, and all adhere to a largely classical (i.e. neoliberal) economic view. Put them together in a room, and I’m sure they would ultimately agree that we need a range of policies to complement carbon pricing; they recognize that changing both consumer and producer behavior on such a massive scale will require more than just price signals. They might not agree completely on all of the prescriptions but neither do environmentalists.

Economists of all stripes have argued for decades for the proper pricing of pollution, for severely reducing or eliminating natural resources subsidies for agriculture, forestry, energy, water, and fisheries, and for making property rights simpler and more transparent.

So here’s the bottom line: when they discuss policy solutions to environmental problems, Roberts and McKibben (and virtually every other environmentalist) are three out of four times describing concepts that can be traced to mainstream environmental economists, sometimes from work done decades ago.

Of course economists don’t agree on everything, and there is always some economist hack at one of the rightwing “think tanks” who will put forth an outlandish idea—but by and large the most well-respected mainstream economists are squarely on the side of environmentalists.

It would be nice if more environmentalists would simply acknowledge this, and we could all work together to help the public understand the strong synergy between economic and environmental interests. The idea that classical economics is somehow opposed to environmental legislation, or not sophisticated enough to grasp the realities of human behavior, is false. Worse, it creates a false dichotomy that only helps fuel the skeptics and confuse an already chronically misinformed citizenry.
Item of the Day - Multi-Purpose Leather Gloves

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

Coldform Extra Heavy Socs

Thursday, April 8, 2010

(C)Update: April 8th on Chinese Oil Spill

Relatively calm seas and moderate winds have temporarily allayed concerns the ship could break up, but the threat to the Barrier Reef is not over. Mr Quirk said salvage assistance would be needed to remove the carrier and it would be “a difficult process that could take some time”.

The main engine room on Shen Neng 1 had been breached, he said, the main engine damaged and the rudder seriously damaged.

About two tonnes of fuel oil have already spilled, creating a slick about 3km long and 100m wide, but further leaking has not been registered.

Graham Scott said the pilot would have had to ignore a lot of warning signs to end up on Douglas
Shoal, which he described as a long, low, gradual rise of coral, sand and weed.

Now that it was there, however, it would be very difficult to remove. Water and wind would be acting against each other, he said, grinding the ship on the reef. He could see no other way of removal other than floating it off, which would mean removing the oil and the coal freight.

Mr Scott said that while the damage to Douglas Shoal would be considerable, he hoped that no further damage to the area would occur. The incident was a timely reminder of the environmental cost of an oil spill in that area, he said.

According to MSQ, any major oil spill would not only damage the reef, but would end up in the military area of Shoalwater Bay, one of the most pristine places in the world, which is without vehicle access or any other infrastructure that could be used for a clean-up.

WWF-Australia’s conservation director Dr Gilly Llewellyn said the lack of current safeguards around shipping in the Great Barrier Reef was akin to playing Russian roulette with the world heritage listed area.

“With shipping traffic set to escalate dramatically in these waters over coming years, a major environmental disaster becomes more likely.

“A review of the current management system is urgently needed to ensure it is completely watertight,” she said.

Shen Neng 1 is owned by Shenzhen Energy, a subsidiary of the COSCO Group – China’s largest shipping company.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the shipping company could be fined $1 million and the ship’s captain $250,000 if it was found they had broken Australia’s shipping laws.

Update: Thursday, April 8th on Chinese Oil Spill

After visiting the reef to witness the carrier and its surrounds, Greens Senator Bob Brown dubbed the route “the coal highway”.

“Speculation is growing that a large number of these huge ships, including oil containers, move illegally through this lane near the Douglas Shoal and nothing’s been done about it by the authorities,” Senator Brown said on ABC radio.

Local fishermen have confirmed Sen Brown’s suspicions. “I have definitely seen ships between Douglas Shoal and Great Keppel Island,” Rockhampton fisherman Stephen Pills told The Epoch Times.

Mr Pills, the manager of Barra Jacks Fishing and Outdoors, asked another fisherman in his shop who said most of the coal containers coming in and out of Gladstone used that route.

“I saw one when I was outside there last Friday [April 2],” the fisherman said. “It was the same size as the one stuck on the reef, but it was going south to Gladstone.”

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says a full investigation is underway as to why the ship was almost 30km from authorized shipping channels.

“This is a very serious incident. This ship has acted illegally going into these restricted areas [of the marine park],” she said.

“The Commonwealth Government is now investigating how this happened and I hope, frankly, they throw the book at them.”

Rockhampton lawyer Graham Scott said he was not aware that the ships were acting illegally.

Mr Scott runs a charter boat service to fishing areas just north of Douglas Shoal and has worked closely with GBRMPA. Large ships regularly use the route, he said, but the area was marked in light blue or general usage on GBRMPA maps and so he had not seen it as a problem.

“It’s a reasonably safe passage,” he said, noting that Douglas Shoal itself was restricted, but that area was clearly marked in dark blue on the maps.

A bulk coal carrier caught on Douglas Shoal in the Great Barrier Marine Park may have been following a regular route for industrial ships going in and out of Gladstone, but it could be a timely reminder of inherent environmental danger

The 230-meter Shen Neng 1, carrying 65,000 tonnes of coal and 975 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, ran aground on the reef about 70km east of the popular holiday resort of Great Keppel Island on Easter Saturday April 3.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said it was “outrageous that any vessel could find itself ... off course in the Great Barrier Reef”.

“The practical challenge then is to bring to account [those] responsible,” he said.

Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) spokesman Philip Quirk said Shen Neng 1 was attempting to use an authorized—but not favored—route from coastal waters out into the Coral Sea.

He said it ran aground in the approaches to the Capricorn Channel in a restricted part of the marine park where the ship should never have been.

“This vessel was attempting to use a route which we would see as not the best practice route,” he told AAP.

Mr Quirk also said the grounding happened outside the coverage area of a vessel tracking system, which would have alerted authorities about the ship straying off course.
Item of the Day: Peat Sorb Absorbent

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An Update from Bob Brown on the Chinese Oil Spill

On a gorgeous Queensland afternoon, flying out over the Douglas Shoal should be an opportunity to appreciate the breathtaking beauty of the Great Barrier Reef.

Alone except for one small vessel, from the air the Shen Neng 1 looks like an innocuous abandoned handbag.

But the vessel is a ticking environmental time-bomb.

Stuck fast, the Chinese coal tanker is poised to spew nearly 1000 tonnes of oil and 65,000 tonnes of coal over ancient coral reefs and pristine coastline.

Depending on weather and the ability of authorities to remove the ship's cargo, we are facing an environmental disaster.

The question of how the vessel came to be up to 30 kms off course, without a pilot, uncovers a broader issue.

The Shen Neng 1 ran aground in what has now been exposed as a known shortcut for shipping.

Premier Anna Bligh has said she will be throwing the book at whoever is responsible, while Kevin Rudd has made a special trip to Rockhampton to view the impending tragedy himself.
However, neither Premier Bligh or the Prime Minister can pass the blame for this accident off on a single captain or even a single company.

Why did multibillion dollar corporations, on both sides of the ocean, refuse to pay $8,000 for a pilot?

The answer is because they did not have to as current regulations do not compel them to.

If the Shen Neng 1 had been required to have a pilot, as is done further north along the Queensland coastline, it would not have been able to travel illegally off course, nor would it have been in such danger of hitting coral outcrops.

The other issue is one of monitoring.

While fishing vessels are required to have satellite tracking, massive coal tankers like the Shen Neng 1 are only monitored on the northern half of the Great Barrier Reef (and even then only by volunteers), not the southern half - despite Queensland Premier Anna Bligh's plans to export more coal and natural gas through southern ports like Gladstone.

It is likely that many have been using this illegal shipping short cut for years, but Australian authorities do not track vessels in this area so we cannot even say for sure how many or how often tankers take this short cut.

For a comparatively tiny amount of money irreplaceable whale breeding grounds, fish habitat and dugong and turtle habitat are now at risk.

Studies of previous accidents shows damage to the Reef occurs through physical damage to the coral substructures and toxic pollution from marine anti-foulant paint, as well as impacts from oil spills.

But we don't know what the impact of dumping 65,000 tonnes of coal onto the Reef would be because the studies have not been done.

Because of the sway the industry has over the government, the Great Barrier Reef has been turned into a coal highway.

Proper regulation, as the Greens have been saying for years is required, could have prevented this accident.

The Greens are calling for a Royal Commission into how this situation could occur. Certainly, the coal industry, should be held to account.

With further plans to expand shipping traffic to export more coal and gas to China, this is an urgent situation that must be addressed immediately.

There is no question that no expense should be spared to get the deadly oil and coal cargo off the Shen Neng 1, and minimise damage to the Reef.

But we also need to ask who is going to pay for the costs of salvaging, cleaning up and investigating this incident.

All ships traversing Australian waters should be required at the very least to have insurance which covers the full cost of any accident which might occur.

An oil spill that occurred last year near Moreton Bay close to Brisbane saw a shortfall of around $6 million. This cost was met by the Queensland Government's increase to the levy for all vessels, penalising all for the actions of irresponsible operators. Until marine pilots and round the clock monitoring and full insurance are compulsory, ships should have to avoid the Reef.

The cost of taking a longer, but safer route further south to avoid the Reef adds only $120,000 to the cost of a trip for these ships. In comparison to the millions of dollars of cargo, this is peanuts.

The greatest irony of this terrible incident is that the burning of coal is the biggest threat of all to the Great Barrier Reef, through climate change and ocean acidification which is already causing regular bleaching events.
- Bob Brown with ABC: The Drum Unleashed
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Monday, April 5, 2010

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Wale Environmental: The Green Choice

Chinese Oil Spill in Environmentally Sensitive Area

The Chinese vessel Shen Neng 1 ran aground on Douglas Shoal, east of Rockhampton, near Great Keppel Island on Saturday.

It is estimated that damage to the ship's hull and fuel tanks has caused a narrow spill of three to four tonnes of fuel about three kilometres in length and 100 metres wide.

Salvage workers will deliver an initial report today about the condition and future of the ship.

Maritime Safety Queensland spokesman Mark Strong says they have sprayed the spill with chemical dispersants and may do so again today.

"The first run seemed to lead to an improvement in the oil clean-up. It certainly dispersed some of the oil that was there," he said.

"It is a heavy fuel oil and as such, is more resistant than normal to chemical dispersants, but the best time to attempt to disperse oil with chemical dispersant is in the first 24 hours."

He says the coal ship must have been travelling well off course when it became stuck in a protected reef.

Mr Strong says a local navigator had been on the ship to guide it into open water but left before the accident occurred.

"The area is an environmentally sensitive area and... all shipping is banned from using that environmentally sensitive area," he said.

"As a result, the vessel was significantly off the course that it should have been on."

Yesterday, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said it was not known why the ship was is in a restricted part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

But Mr Strong says it could have been much worse.

"This spill certainly is not as bad as it could initially have been," he said.

"We still have only a small amount of fuel in the water.

"It is fuel from the vessel itself and that's why we're taking every precaution before a decision is made on how the vessel may be salvaged."


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