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Australia sues Chinese ship owner over damage to Barrier Reef

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This photo taken on November 20, 2014 shows an aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands, along the central coast of Queensland. Australia is suing the owners of a Chinese coal ship that hit the Great Barrier Reef five years ago, causing the worst such damage on record to a coral reef.

[SYDNEY] Australia is suing the owners of a Chinese coal ship that hit the Great Barrier Reef five years ago, causing the worst such damage on record to a coral reef.

The Shen Neng 1, a Chinese-registered bulk carrier, ploughed into the Douglas Shoal in April 2010, severely damaging or destroying an area covering 115,000 square meters and leaving toxic anti-fouling paint on the reef, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said in a statement.

The government is seeking damages in Federal Court to cover clean up costs, or an order forcing the ship owner to remediate the site, the authority said. The proceeding has been listed for trial for 15 days, starting April 2016.

Shen Neng 1 was carrying 68,000 metric tons of steelmaking coal when the ship ran aground on the reef on April 3, 2010. It was pulled free of the Douglas Shoal on April 12 and towed to China.

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The reef is home to more than 1,600 species of fish and is the largest living structure on the planet, according to the marine park authority.

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