[Editor’s Note: Mark Bailey, Queensland Ports Minister, shared that drones being used to check for remaining oil is a first in Queensland for oil response operations.]
Drones will be sent out to check for any remaining oil around world heritage-listed Fraser Island as the clean-up of the world’s largest sand island winds down.
Rangers first spotted oil patties ranging in size from 10-cent piece to a five-dollar note washed ashore on a 60-kilometre stretch of the sand island’s eastern coastline last Monday.
In the following week, response teams from Maritime Safety Queensland, Parks and Wildlife, RoadTek, SES, police and local council began the mammoth task of removing the patties and were now nearing the end, Queensland Ports Minister Mark Bailey said.
“On any day there were in excess of 30 shoreline clean-up personnel working in teams on site in support roles to restore the beach environment, in addition to the support staff working in Brisbane and Gladstone,” he said.
“The oil patties were removed by rake and shovel, which was hard work but minimised the impact on the environment.
“A formal sign-off of the clean-up work will be undertaken later in the week and traditional owners will be invited to attend.”
Mr Bailey said there would be “follow-up” operations over the next few weeks to catch any “fugitive” oil that may have been missed.
“This will be aided by the use of drone flights, which is a first in Queensland for oil response operations,” Mr Bailey said.
Minister for Environment Steven Miles confirmed there were no reports of any impact to wildlife and said investigations were continuing.
“The investigation into the source is continuing and we are happy with the work to date aimed at identifying a group of vessels that may be able to assist us in the investigation,” he said.