The coastline south of Point Cartwright. Photo:Courtesy Graeme Gillies of Blue Tongue Helicopters /181436
The coastline south of Point Cartwright. Photo:Courtesy Graeme Gillies of Blue Tongue Helicopters /181436

Sunshine Coast left with clean-up bill

Sunshine Coast ratepayers have been left holding a $1.4 million bill for clean-up operations following the disastrous oil spill along Coast beaches in March.

Mayor Bob Abbot confirmed the council had not been paid for work to clean up the mess, which scarred beaches when the Pacific Adventurer lost 270 tonnes of oil.

A bill for the work has been sent to the state government but the likelihood of it being paid is under a cloud after the owners of the vessel, Swire Shipping, said they would not pay the full $34 million cost of the clean-up.

Premier Anna Bligh received a letter from the company’s lawyers last week saying they would only pay the $US17 million required under international maritime law.

Yesterday Ms Bligh admitted there may be little her government could do to recover the full clean-up cost.

“Certainly, the early advice indicates that there’s limited options for pursuing any legal action against the company,” she told reporters on the Gold Coast.

But Ms Bligh said if there was any chance Queensland could recoup the money through the courts, it would.

Mr Abbot said he would support the government’s pursuit.

“We’ve got a bill we ran up of $1.4 million for the restitution of the beaches and we would expect that bill would be paid,” he said.

The money was owed for staff and equipment time and waste disposal, but council did not become involved in feeding or housing the clean-up crews.

“We will certainly support anything that needs to be done to get the full amount because this community certainly cannot afford to pay for the wrongdoings of international shipping companies,” Mr Abbot said

While it appears small Coast businesses which serviced the clean-up crews have been paid, Kawana Surf Club general manager Ian Waller said the club suffered badly when Maritime Services Queensland made it the base for clean-up crews.

While MSQ had paid for food and drink provided by the club, Mr Waller said that paled beside the tens of thousands of dollars in lost gaming, bar and restaurant trade.

“They took over the place – we were virtually shut down for 20 days,” he said.

The club had approached Swire about a sponsorship deal but had been told to “put in a claim like everyone else”.



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