Questioning by the Australian Greens in Senate Estimates has exposed the urgent need to clean up the Shen Neng shipwreck in the Great Barrier Reef.
"Five years after the Shen Neng coal ship ran into Douglas Shoal in the Great Barrier Reef, the wreck is still poisoning the Reef with toxic anti-foulant," Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens Deputy Leader, said.
"But the Australian and Queensland governments have failed to provide funding for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to clean it up.
"The toxic TBT anti-foulant chemical is still sitting on the Shoal inhibiting coral regrowth, and could be spread across local reefs.
"The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said in Senate Estimates that the clean-up works are ‘urgent' and would cost around $50 million, or about one full year's funding of the Authority.
"But the federal government is waiting on the outcome on a lengthy court case with the ship owner's insurance company.
"The Abbott and Palaszczuk governments should start the clean-up now and then recoup the cost from the ship owner or their insurer.
"Last time we narrowly avoided the Shen Neng spilling its cargo of 68,000 tonnes of coal into the Reef's waters with potentially disastrous results, but next time we may not be so lucky.
"The Shen Neng disaster should serve as a constant reminder of the high stakes of shipping coal in the Reef, which is set to dramatically increase with the Abbot Point coal port expansion for Galilee Basin coal mines," Senator Waters said.