Tug spills 25 tonnes of oil

An oil-skimming boat cleans up the spill near the entrance to Auckland Creek, which was blocked with an inflatable boom.

A TUGBOAT collided with a coal carrier on Tuesday night in what was believed to be the state's worst oil spill in 30 years.

The tugboat Tom Tough was assisting the arriving Korean coal carrier Global Peace berth at the RG Tanna Coal Terminal when it was believed one of the engine's lost power.

The tug ruptured a fuel tank spilling at least 25 tonnes into the harbour just before midnight on Tuesday night.

Maritime Safety Queensland's (MSQ) Captain John Watkinson, managing the clean-up operation, said the incoming tide spread the fuel upstream into mangroves, river estuaries and the port.

The fuel was spread further into other port areas after the tide turned.

"There has been minimal impact on mangrove areas,'' Capt Watkinson said.

"There has been some impact around Auckland Point ? it's mainly still around the channel.''

Capt Watkinson said the oil had spread about 20km along the coast and about 4km wide yesterday morning.

He said neither MSQ nor the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believed any wildlife had been affected by the oil yesterday.

Capt Watkinson said about two tonnes of oil had been removed from the harbour with the clean-up to continue today.

MSQ yesterday battled winds and poor weather conditions while trying to contain and remove the oil.

"It makes the picking-up less effective,'' Capt Watkinson said.

"Hopefully the weather will be kinder tomorrow.

"In any event we'll be out there.

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