Friday, June 29, 2007

Efforts To Free Coal Freighter Grip Millions Around The World

Greenpeace Lasers Australia's Favourite Stranded Ship

If the massive coal freighter now stranded in sand off a Newcastle Beach is ever set free, people are going to miss it.

Not just the locals around Nobby's Beach, some of whom have done a roaring trade in t-shirts, fast food and car boot beer sales in the near three weeks the freighter has been stranded there, but many of those who tuned into the news tonight to see efforts to free the ship leading the news on nearly every channel.

Australians usually pine over stranded whales, now some are getting emotional over the plight of a beached coal freighter.

The trials of the Pasher Bulker have certainly been newsworthy.

The freighter could break up, spilling thousands of tons of oil and causing an environmental disaster, it could be freed, or it could stay there and become a permanent tourist attraction, and a challenge for any local kid to find a way to get on board the 230 metre long behemoth.

The tugs are in place and are trying to free it tonight, while the king tide is in, but in the meantime Greenpeace activists saw their chance to pump their anti-coal message Australia's biggest semi-permanent billboard, by spraying the vast side of the vessel with a laser messages, including :
This Is What Climate Change Looks Like

Coal Causes Climate Chaos

And stranded coal freighters can cause traffic chaos in the little Nobby's Beach community, as thousands of people decided, during the past two weeks, that they don't want to get out of their car to take a look at such a spectacular site.

So many people were expected to head towards Nobby's to watch the de-beaching tonight that local roads and pedestrian routes were closed down.

More on the 'Free The Ship' movement from The Age :

Three tugs and winches aboard the $35 million coal carrier will haul together during today's 7pm high tide to heave the massive vessel seaward.

The 40,000-tonne ship's ballast water, which has been holding her steady on the sand, will be pumped out and the hull pressurised.

Since the Pasha Bulker ran aground during a severe storm on June 8, its plight in pounding seas has been a source of fascination.

The ship has about 700 tonnes of fuel and 100 tonnes of other chemicals on board, prompting worries of a possible hull breach.

Wind gusts of up to 80 km/h and three-metre waves around the ship are forecast to ease today and continue to lessen over tomorrow and Saturday, when the salvage operation is expected to continue.

There's even a live webcam up so you can watch the action, or see waves crashing against a huge coal freighter. Excitement! I just saw it moving! The webcam has had an extraordinary two million viewings from around the world in 48 hours.

Nobby's is actually a man-made beach, and the impact of the coal freighter running aground, and the efforts to free it, have caused concern with the local surfers, who fear the activity might change their surf conditions forever.

If it stays there, it is going to be one hell of an object to try and surf around.