- Iron Baron
- Accident date
- Accident area
- Hebe Reef
- Spill area
- Cause of spill
- Product transported
- 26,000 tonnes of manganese ore
- Nature of pollutant
- bunker fuel
- Quantity spilled
- 300 tonnes
- Ship / structure type
- Bulk carrier
- Built date
- 188 m
- 28 m
- 15.42 m
On the 10th July 1995 as it was en-route from Kembla, Australia to Launceston in Tasmania the Iron Baron grounded on the Hebe Reef at the mouth of the Tamar River. It was carrying 26,000 tonnes of manganese ore. The accident damaged the fuel tank and 300 out of the 550 tonnes of bunker fuel aboard was released into the sea. The crew of 18 were all safely evacuated.
The Port of Launceston Authority (PLA) was appointed coordinator of operations and Australia's National Plan was activated. As a result of deteriorating weather conditions and tidal action, the spill reached the shore in the vicinity of Low Head.
Response at sea
An attempt to spray dispersants on the slick was soon suspended due to weather conditions and the type of oil. These weather conditions also prevented the deployment of containment booms around the vessel.
The vessel was refloated on the 16th July 1995 and then towed towards the Port of Launceston. While the vessel was being towed the remaining 250 tonnes of fuel was released. Spill response equipment was rapidly sent to the area. Some of the oil was collected before reaching Bakers Beach and the Rubicon River estuary.
Response on land
Over 500 people were involved in the manual clean-up operations on land.
There was significant impact on fauna and in particular the penguins nesting on the north coast.
A large programme to collect and rehabilitate oiled wildlife was set up in Low Head.
Refloating the vessel
On the 16th July the vessel was refloated and towed to an anchorage site 2 nautical miles offshore. The underwater inspection and assessment of the vessel revealed significant structural damage which meant that it was not authorised to enter the Port of Lauceston. The ship's owner, the insurer and the Commonwealth Environment Protection Agency agreed to scuttle the vessel. The vessel was sunk the 30th July 1995, 53 nautical miles east of Flinders Island.
The spill did not appear to significantly impact the wildlife of intertidal reefs.