Australia has launched an investigation after an unconfirmed amount of sodium hydroxide was released from a vessel at Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) wharf into Gladstone Harbour.

The country’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) are looking into the reported spill into which occurred in the night from September 24 to 25.

EHP officers conducted a site assessment at first light today, while staff from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) undertook visual assessments of the shoreline in an effort to identify any impacts.

Relevant authorities are continuing to investigate the exact amount of sodium hydroxide spilled into the harbour, but initial reports suggests a loss of “several tonnes”.

The incident has the potential to impact the local marine ecology and damage vessels that come into contact with the chemical, according to EHP.

At this stage, it is believed that the most likely area for any impacts to occur is to the south of the QAL wharf, because the release occurred at high tide.

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