Senator Larissa Waters said that she received the report anonymously, which states that the 'Pacific Explorer' spilled food waste on 26 August, because of a shortage in capacity in its food waste tanks.

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Waste from the galley tank was  discharged by engineers in the Great Barrier Reef, while the ship knew about the incident one day later  on 27 August.

During the hearing it was said that P&O reported the spill to AMSA, however the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority noted that it was not informed of the spill until 4 September.

Ms. Waters questioned why the incident had not been made public and it took an anonymous source for her to know. She is worried about the fact that the ship was leased for events as part of November’s Apec summit in Port Moresby.

Now that the spill is known, Ms. Waters said that if the ship does not prove that its procedures are watertight and has paid to clean up any damage it caused, then it should not be used in the Apec CEO summit.

As for P&O, a spokeswoman for the company mentioned that P&O self-reported to AMSA that it was suspected there had been an unintentional discharge of pulped and food waste on August 26. The amount of the discharge would have been around seven cubic metres, she added.

She concluded by saying that this was an isolated incident and that P&O Cruises are collaborating with AMSA in the investigation.