10 October 2011

Q&A with Maritime NZ on oil slick: (Oil spill from MV Rena)

Things you need to know about Maritime New Zealand's response to the stricken ship on Astrolabe Reef in Tauranga Harbour.

Who is currently in charge of salvage?

Svitzer has been appointed as salvor.

Can MNZ take control of the situation?

Yes, we have the powers to do so. At this stage, the Director of MNZ has issued instructions to the owner.

What is MNZ doing to take control of the situation?

MNZ Director Catherine Taylor has issued the ship's owner, agent, master and any salvage operator with a notice under section 248 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994. She considers that Rena is a hazardous ship, and she has instructed those responsible for the ship to ensure that MNZ is kept informed of all salvage operations.

Why hasn't this been done before?

This has been signed off today. The Director felt it was necessary to take these steps. This does not put MNZ in charge of the salvage but we have the ability to take control if we deem it necessary.

What is a S248 and what powers does it provide?

A Section 248 notice provides that, if the Director considers a ship is a hazardous ship, the Director can issue instructions or take other actions, in order to avoid, reduce or remedy pollution or a significant risk of pollution. The Director has issued 2 separate notices today.

The Director's instructions include:
  • comply with the directions of the National On Scene Commander (NOSC) by doing anything or refraining from doing anything that the NOSC considers necessary or appropriate to control or clean up the marine pollution or oil spill or both, and permit the NOSC to carry out such inspections as he considers appropriate of the ship Rena for the purposes of determining what steps may be necessary or appropriate to control or clean up the marine pollution or oil spill or both.
  • establish direct timely and regular communication with MNZ.
  • provide MNZ with all relevant information relating to the intended salvage of the ship before any salvage operation is undertaken, and provide regular updates while the salvage is being undertaken.
What happens if the situation deteriorates?

If the conditions deteriorate, we have the ability to take control of the vessel and the salvage operation.

Who is liable for any damage caused as a result of the vessel?

The vessel owners and their insurers are liable for the costs, subject to some limitations that are set out in international conventions.

Source: Bay of Plenty Times 6 October 2011

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