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August 23, 2009

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Aussies try to limit oil slick

AUSTRALIA mobilized aircraft yesterday to try to break up a growing oil slick off its northwestern coast as it struggled to stop a well gushing oil into the sea.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said 50 tonnes of dispersant were being prepared to try to contain the spill from a rig in the Timor Sea. A Hercules aircraft was being flown in from Singapore and two back-up planes readied.

The slick has reached 8 kilometers in length, one of 69 employees evacuated from the rig said yesterday.

"This leak has occurred in one of the remotest locations possible, making any operation difficult," said the rescue agency, which is coordinating the clean-up operation. It was too early to determine the full impact, it added.

Rig operator PTTEP Australasia, a unit of Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production PCL, said that 40 barrels of oil leaked in the initial incident on Friday.

However, the well was still gushing oil yesterday and emergency services said stopping it was a priority.


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