60 Minutes: August 18

2012-11-09_1454This weekend on 60 Minutes, Michael Usher reports on toxic chemicals sprayed on the Great Barrier Reef and north west Australian waters.

Crude Solution
When petroleum giant BP spilled millions of litres of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico 3 years ago, it was the worst ever offshore oil disaster. To try and break up that massive slick, vast quantities of chemical dispersant was sprayed on the spill. It seemed to work: the oil disappeared. But people started getting sick and then people started dying. Now, this environmental disaster has become a health catastrophe. The dispersant, when mixed with the oil, increases in toxicity by 52 times. This sickly, invisible toxin, still lurks in the water and absorbs straight into peoples’ skin. In this special 60 Minutes investigation, we reveal the same chemical dispersants have been sprayed on the Great Barrier Reef and off the north west coast of Australia. They’re still approved for use and our authorities are clueless as to how deadly they are.
Reporter: Michael Usher
Producer: Jo Townsend

Love Twist
You could never accuse Rex and Melissa Pemberton of having a dull marriage. They met while base jumping in Australia. Then, they declared their love for each other as Melissa hung precariously from a snagged parachute, halfway down a gorge. Their latest trick involves Rex soaring through the sky wearing a wing suit, reaching speeds of 160 kilometres per hour while Melissa, in a stunt plane, performs breath taking loops around him. It’s man versus machine for this husband and wife. They vow to love, honour and avoid collision. Trust is everything in this marriage.
Reporter: Charles Wooley
Producer: Steven Burling

The Boss
After more than four decades in the rock and roll business, you’d think Bruce Springsteen might be slowing down. Wrong. He’s about to turn 64, and “The Boss” is on fire. As he winds down one world tour, he’s already preparing for another – which will once again bring him to Australia. Springsteen has sold more than 120 million records to his disciple-like fans. He prefers to speak through his music, talking of a spiritual connection with his audience. And when Liz Hayes caught up with him in Ireland, she discovered a man ready to bare his soul.
Reporter: Liz Hayes
Producer: Stephen Rice

8pm, Sunday August 18 on Channel Nine


  1. Armchair Analyst

    Also credit goes to Michael Usher on this story now days journos are not doing this type of work on Commerical tv much, this story was very valuable, hope he wins a walkley or gets some recognition, hopefully it gets the right reaction from the public.

  2. Armchair Analyst

    This was eye opening and in retrospective not that surpising. I was planning to go to Cairns at some point next year and swim on the beach but since hearing about this i am having serious second thoughts. I can see why Government and Industry would like to keep this quiet the whole tourism thing and potential losses in other investments plus hurting australia’s rep. We are creating Hell on Earth gradually, soon it will be like the new movie out now starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster Elysium.

  3. Shen Neng 1
    The ship was more than 10 km outside of the shipping lane. It struck the reef late in the afternoon of 3 April, scraping along the reef for a considerable distance and creating the longest known grounding scar on the Great Barrier Reef. Tugs were sent to remove the ship which was feared would break apart in rough seas. Eventually the vessel was refloated and taken to Hervey Bay. After unloading about a third of its cargo Shen Neng 1 was towed to Singapore. The ship’s captain and officer-on-watch were both charged. The maximum fine for shipping companies that cause damage to the reef was increased after the incident.
    Should we be concerned that there could be residue from the toxic chemicals in our local waters.

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