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Cleanup underway after oil spill

WILDLIFE workers rescued turtle eggs and captured a few oil-coated pelicans off Australia's east coast yesterday while state officials assessed the extent of an oil spill from a cargo ship that was damaged in stormy seas.

The Pacific Adventurer's fuel stores were punctured when 31 containers of ammonium nitrate fertilizer slipped off the ship early on Wednesday as the ship rocked in Australia's rough eastern waters, where a cyclone had stormed for the past week.

The spill of up to 30 metric tons of oil created a slick spanning 10 kilometers, and some of the oil had begun to wash up on beaches in Queensland state, leaving a black, sticky mess as the tide receded.

At Marcoola Beach, lifeguard official David McLean said oil globules stretched about 1 kilometer along the beach, which was closed due to the spill.

"As you walk along it sticks to the bottom of your shoe like glue," he said.

About 100 turtle eggs were collected from the beach by wildlife rescuers.

Five oil-coated pelicans flew in and joined a daily feeding session at Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island.

Workers managed to catch three of them and the Environmental Protection Agency planned to evacuate the birds for chemical cleaning treatment, Trevor Hassard from the resort's Dolphin Education Centre told the Brisbane Times newspaper.

"It just makes you want to cry," Hassard was quoted as saying. "This stuff is so hard to remove. If an animal like a bird gets oil on it, it basically dies. There's nothing we can do."


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