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Era, 30 August 1992
Dispersant spraying commenced soon after the spill. Strong north-westerly winds gusting to 25 knots combined with the tide and current, causing the oil to drift eastward. Because of the high winds, containment booms could not be used. The oil degenerated to an oily sheen. Some of this sheen impacted the mangroves and a number of small creeks to the south-west of Port Pirie.
In an effort to contain the remaining oil/sheen on the Port Pirie side of the Gulf, containment booms were deployed on the open water but were unsuccessful due to the inclement weather conditions. Clean up of the mangroves proved to be difficult. No vehicular access was available and small craft can only work in the mangroves when the tide is suitable.
Photo: South Australian Department of Transport
The oil remaining in the mangroves was left to degrade naturally. Environmental advice at the time suggested that attempting clean-up action would result in greater damage to this environment.
There was a significant loss of birdlife. About 500 birds were affected, of which 300 required treatment.
Species affected were mostly:
The South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service and volunteer groups set up a 'bird hospital’ to treat affected birds.
The South Australian Government was responsible for the response and clean-up operation. Assistance was provided by AMSA and the Australian Marine Oil Spill Centre (AMOSC).
Read about Australia's National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies.