11 October 2011

New Zealand oil slick is ‘worst ever’:

Oil spill from MV Rena reaches the shore

New Zealand authorities expect that pollution will get worse but say there seems to be no danger of a container ship breaking up as it sits stuck on a reef just off the east coast of the country’s North Island.

The country’s Environment Minister Nick Smith said: “This event has come to a scale where it is New Zealand’s most significant maritime environmental disaster.”

The Greek-owned Rena is stranded 12 nautical miles from Tauranga, with its two forward compartments holed and flooded. Pumping off more fuel will have to wait for calmer weather. The sea was running a five-metre swell.

People walk on a beach stained with fuel oil leaked from the Liberian-flagged container ship Rena, off the coast of Tauranga, in New Zealand on Tuesday

A Radio New Zealand journalist at the scene, Andrew MacRae, told euronews: “The whole thing is at the mercy of the sea, and because they’re not on board anymore at the moment, and it’s dark, they can’t see what’s going on. They did have a barge out there a couple of days ago trying to pump the 1,700 tonnes of oil off, but that ran into problems straight away and only something like 11 tonnes were taken off. And when they can get the barge back out there, and that depends on the weather, it will take probably 24-48 hours before it can then start pumping the oil off.”

An oil slick streams from the Rena, container ship grounded on a reef in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty. Photog -Getty

The fine sand beaches affected are a prime attraction for surfers at the best of times. Further out, the sea has an international reputation for big-game fishing. Volunteers are shovelling up clumps of oil.

Local fisherman Barry Connolly told euronews: “Some of the people who’ve been here from all around the world, who have seen it, have said this is one of the most beautiful beaches that they’ve ever seen, so everybody here is pretty pissed off!”

The ship struck the Astrolabe Reef, which is clearly marked on charts, last Wednesday.

Source: Euro News. 11 October 2011

NZ’s ‘worst maritime environmental disaster’:

An oil spill in New Zealand is now being described by the government as the country’s “worst ever maritime environmental disaster”.

Officials have confirmed that oil is now pouring into the sea at a faster rate than previously thought.

Yesterday authorities said up to 30 tonnes of oil had leaked from the grounded container ship Rena, but now say the figure could be as high as 350.

Oil has already begun to come ashore on numerous beaches in the Bay of Plenty, in a part of the country where nature reserves and wildlife are popular with local and overseas holidaymakers.

One of the penguins being cared for at the wildlife rehabilitation facility set up at Tauranga

Bad weather has been hampering efforts to pump some 1700 tonnes of oil from the ship, which is also carrying containers with toxic materials

Source: Euro News. 11 October 2011

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