Prime Minister John Key is flying into Tauranga today to view the looming environmental disaster that is the stricken container ship as anger grows over the time it has taken to respond.
The fuel vessel Awanuia is due to arrive today to help offload the 2000 tonnes of oil threatening to spill into the
The 5km oil slick across the sea is already being cited as exposing the dangers of deep sea oil exploration.
Green Party oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes said the inability of
to cope was exposed by the need to call on for help. "We have
to put a moratorium on even testing [oil] wells in Australia waters until we can
prove that our oil spill response plans are adequate." New Zealand
Environment Minister Nick Smith said yesterday it was possible to manage the risks of exploration.
He said proposed laws would ensure the proper protection was in place when they were passed.
Maritime pollution response co-ordinator Mick Courtnell said it had the potential to be similar to the Gulf of Mexico disaster which left the
coast knee-deep in thick oil. Florida
|The oil spill from cargo ship Rena. Photo - John Borren|
"We're not mopping up spilt milk in the kitchen. It could be a long term beach clean-up. If the ship breaks in half and all the oil comes to shore, it will be buckets and spades sort of stuff."
"From what I've seen so far they're woefully under-prepared," he said.
"People here are getting more annoyed by the day by the lack of action. It's been four days now and still nothing."
Earth 2 Oceans dive centre owner Rachel Rolston said she was "horrified" by the amount of time it was taking. "There seem to have been slow, ill-equipped and inefficient responses from the organisations and departments that should have been doing something about this. People here are angry. They're really angry."
Mark Tucker, operator of sight-seeing company Orca Explorer, said he felt authorities were not doing enough to soak up the oil already in the water. "If the wind turns on shore it will hit the beaches. It's like tar, it'll be impossible to clean up."
On Thursday, Tucker heard Maritime NZ officials trying to reach Rena's captain through maritime radio channel 12. "The officer said the captain was sleeping in his cabin and refused to wake him up."
The oil spill was not enough to put off Mt Maunganui's Gary Plane, 52, from taking his 90hp runabout out yesterday.
He steered clear from Astrolabe, his favourite spot, but still came home with 19 snapper and tarakihi. "I'm worried about that ship breaking," he said. "That whole area is a very unique eco-system. It will be a disaster. That ship must have been miles off course. It should never have happened."
- additional reporting Celeste Gorrell Anstiss
Source: NZ Herald. By Matthew Theunissen & Amelia Romanos. 9 October 2011