- World Encouragement
- Accident date
- Accident area
- Botany Bay
- Spill area
- Cause of spill
- Nature of pollutant
- Arabian crude oil
- Quantity spilled
- 95 tonnes
- Ship / structure type
- 236 m
- 40.46 m
- Saudi Arabia
- Liberian Cross Transports Incorporated
On the 10th September 1979, the oil tanker World Encouragement was conducting berthing operations at an oil refinery mooring at Kurnell, Australia, when the crew noticed an oil slick spreading around the vessel. The crew quickly realised that the oil was coming from their ship which was leaking from under the water line. Once the vessel was moored, the crew began to transfer the contents of the ruptured tank and then repaired the leak. Despite this immediate action some 95 tonnes of oil was released from the vessel's bunker tanks.
Response at sea
Once the leak had been identified, the emergency procedure was rapidly launched. Seven hours later, response equipment (vessels, skimmers, tractors, helicopters, booms etc.) and personnel had been mobilised. In spite of the quick activation of the National Plan, a 3.5 km oil slick was drifting towards the environmentally sensitive Quibray and Weeney Bays. Containing the slick with floating booms was inefficient due to deteriorating weather conditions.
Response on land
The mangroves at Towra Point and in Quibray Bay and Weeney Bay were impacted by the spill. The use of dispersant in these particularly sensitive areas was not permitted.
Access to these sites was difficult (especially Quibray Bay), which complicated clean-up operations for the authorities. Furthermore, the shallow water in the mangrove areas presented difficulties for laying booms. In total, over 100 hectares of mangroves were oiled and 4.4 hectares were destroyed or beyond saving.
The series of groynes along Silver Beach proved particular efficient in stopping the spread of the slicks and the beach only suffered minor pollution.
NSW National Park and Wildlife Service and Taronga Zoo were given the responsibility of caring for oiled wildlife.
Source of the leak
Inspection of the hull by divers and then in dry dock revealed a 37.5 cm by 20 cm hole in tank number 3. The crew were questioned to determine the origin of the breach. Initial reports suggested that the anchor could have caused the hole but this theory was later refuted. Neither the captain nor the crew were held responsible.
The Supreme Court of New South Wales found the owner of the vessel, Liberian Cross Transports Incorporated, liable for costs of $209,557 AUD to be paid to MSB (Maritime Services Board). This sum covered the costs of MSB equipment and personnel used in the response.