Race against time to stop oil leak in Tauranga

Wellington (dpa) – New Zealand officials were desperately preparing Friday for a massive environmental disaster amid fears that a stricken container ship stuck fast on an east coast reef could break up as it continued to leak oil into the sea.
“It has the potential to be very, very, serious indeed,” Andrew Berry, of the Maritime New Zealand agency, said, citing the age of the ship – 32 years, the damage it has sustained and the 1,700 tonnes of heavy fuel on board.
The 236-metre Rena, which is loaded with more than 2,100 containers, hit the Astrolabe reef, 22 kilometres off Tauranga, early Wednesday morning. Two cargo holds were flooded and the ship stranded on the reef with a 14-degree list.
Officials said the cargo included four containers of hazardous ferro-silicon, which can create a fire risk if it comes into contact with water.
A spokesman for the salvage company Svitzer said equipment was being brought from overseas and a specialist from Holland was coming to advise how to unload the cargo and the oil off the 47,000-ton Liberian-flagged vessel.
Berry told Radio New Zealand that a chemical dispersant used Thursday to try to dilute the leaking oil did not work. Booms and pumps were being brought in to remove the oil from the surface.
A full-scale wildlife emergency response was activated after four dead birds were found near the ship. Experts set up treatment centres for oil-stricken birds on the coast and an island 7 kilometres from the reef.
With calm weather continuing Friday, officials said they were racing against time before strong winds and a rising sea swell were forecast.
Maritime New Zealand said Thursday the ship’s fuel tanks were still intact and the heavy fuel oil leaking intermittently from the vessel appeared to be from pipes. It is not known exactly how much oil has escaped, but a slick 5-kilometres-long was reported.
Author: David Barber

1 Comment

  1. Simply desire to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is just cool and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.

Comments are closed.