. Earth Science News .

More oil spills from stricken New Zealand ship
by Staff Writers
Tauranga, New Zealand (AFP) Oct 18, 2011

Fresh oil leaked from a container ship stuck on a New Zealand reef Tuesday, as bad weather halted both salvage work on the vessel and a massive pollution clean up on the coast.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) said the Rena was pounded by four metre (13 foot) swells and 35 knot (65 kilometres per hour) winds overnight, forcing salvage crews pumping oil from its fuel tanks to abandon their work.

It said about 90 tonnes of oil had been offloaded, leaving more than 1,200 tonnes still on board the vessel, which sparked New Zealand's biggest sea pollution disaster when it ploughed into a reef on October 5.

Some 300 tonnes have already fouled beaches on the North Island's Bay of Plenty, killing at least 1,300 birds in the environmentally sensitive area, with the final toll expected to be significantly higher.

MNZ salvage chief Andrew Berry said more oil had spilled from the Liberian-flagged ship but the amount appeared to be small and prevailing winds were driving it offshore.

Huge cracks have opened on the vessel's hull since it grounded, threatening to shear it in two, and Berry said the stop-start salvage operation would take a long time.

"Every drop of oil that we can get off the Rena is one less drop that potentially can end up in the environment," he said.

"But given the huge range of variables that can affect operations, it's going to be a long, slow process."

Poor conditions expected to continue until Wednesday also forced MNZ to stand down an army of more than 5,000 volunteers involved in cleaning up blackened beaches.

"This is a last minute change due to bad weather," it said. "Our thanks and apologies to those volunteers who were ready for action."

MNZ has described the salvage operation on the Rena, which is cracked and listing badly on the Astrolabe Reef 22 kilometres (14 miles) offshore, as one of the most complex it has ever faced.

The viscous oil has a treacle-like consistency and has to be pumped through an eight-centimetre (three-inch) pipe, with the crew ready to evacuate at a moment's notice if the ship begins to break up.

The Rena's owner, Greek company Costamare, has apologised for the disaster, while its charterer, the world's second-largest container shipping firm Mediterranean Shipping Company, has agreed to pay some of the clean up bill.

New Zealand has launched two investigations into how the ship hit the reef in calm conditions but its captain and second office have already been charged with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk.

Compared with some of the world's worst oil spills, the disaster remains small -- the Exxon Valdez which ran aground in 1989 in Alaska dumped 37,000 tonnes of oil into Prince William Sound.

But it is significant because of the once-pristine nature of New Zealand's Bay of Plenty, which contains marine reserves and wetlands and teems with wildlife including whales, dolphins, penguins, seals and rare sea birds.

Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

More oil spills expected from stricken N.Z. ship
Tauranga, New Zealand (AFP) Oct 16, 2011
New Zealand warned more oil was set to spill from a crippled container ship Monday, as looming bad weather threatened to halt the draining of fuel from the stricken vessel's tanks. Salvage crews pumped 20 tonnes of fuel overnight from the Rena but about 1,300 tonnes remain on the wreck, which is listing badly on an offshore reef, and officials said removing it was a painstaking, dangerous op ... read more

A team for an emergency

Fukushima city begins decontamination of homes

Gas blast kills 11 miners in north China: Xinhua

Radioactive emissions from Fukushima plant fall: TEPCO

IBM stock sags on revenue target miss

Samsung seeks iPhone sales ban in Japan, Australia

A hidden order unraveled

RIM out to rev up BlackBerry with new apps

Researchers explore plankton's shifting role in deep sea carbon storage

Sea levels will continue to rise for 500 years

US rivers and streams saturated with carbon

War-damaged power cable cuts Tripoli water supply

CryoSat rocking and rolling

US probes mystery disease killing Arctic seals

NASA Continues Critical Survey of Antarctica's Changing Ice

Research shows how life might have survived 'snowball Earth'

Southern Africian farmers using fertilizer trees to improve food security

Chinese man charged in theft of US trade secrets

S Africa to release report on Iraq's oil-for-food

Method of studying roots rarely used in wetlands improves ecosystem research

Earthquakes generate big heat in super-small areas

Russian Ship Finds Tsunami Debris where Scientists Predicted

Central America toll from rains climbs above 90

Wary Bangkok bolsters flood barriers

Kenyan forces advance on strategic Somali rebel bases

Car bomb rocks Mogadishu during Kenyan ministers visit

Kenyan forces hunt militants deep inside Somalia

Planned Tanzanian soda ash plant threatens flamingoes

Children prefer cooperation

Differences in jet lag severity could be rooted in how circadian clock sets itself

100,000-year-old ochre toolkit and workshop discovered in South Africa

Children, not chimps, choose collaboration


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement