The owners of a Chinese coal carrier that caused significant damage to the Great Barrier Reef more than six years ago will pay a $29.6m settlement as they agreed with the Australian government on Monday.
The Shen Neng 1 hit a shoal in April 2010, leaking tonnes of heavy fuel oil. The 230m ship had grinded against a coral shoal for more than a kilometer, turning coral into dust.
The full clean-up of coral shoal will cost $105m. As the settlement is less than a third part of the expenses, conservationists have described it as "woefully inadequate"."The government has said the full clean up will cost more than $105m so to settle for such a small figure is disappointing,"
Greenpeace's Pacific reef campaigner Shani Tager told news agency AFP.
Shenzhen Energy Transport, the firm behind the carrier, refused to accept responsibility for the damage for six years. They argued the reef was self-healing and the company should not have to pay the bill.
The latest settlement showed Australia would "use every available means to pursue ship owners who are negligent in causing damage to the reef"
, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said.
The funds will allow the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to remove toxic anti-fouling paint and rubble, allowing the reef to be restored. The clean-up operation will begin mid next year.