Weather may affect New Zealand oil spill

The clean-up operation of a stranded tanker off the coast of New Zealand has been halted due to severe weather warnings. Oil has washed up on New Zealand beaches following […]

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By Tom Gibson

The clean-up operation of a stranded tanker off the coast of New Zealand has been halted due to severe weather warnings. Oil has washed up on New Zealand beaches following the grounding of the oil tanker Rena last week, which has lead to New Zealand authorities to issue a health warning.

The container ship struck a reef 12 miles off the coast in the Bay of Plenty on Wednesday. Some of the 1700 tonnes of oil on the ship has washed ashore, although how much the tanker has lost is unknown.

Worsening weather prevented further action today, with crews only extracting ten tonnes from the ship before work was called off, in order to keep crews safe. In a statement, Maritime New Zealand said: “The top priority is to first remove the oil, then lighten the vessel by removing the containers, and finally, move the ship off the reef.”

There is concern an environmental disaster could happen should the bad weather break the ship up. WWF-New Zealand say marine wildlife is threatened by the spreading oil spill. Marine Programme Manager Rebecca Bird said: “We are concerned for wildlife at risk from the spill. Preventing the vessel from breaking up and disgorging its fuel and cargo is clearly the priority, as a spill of that scale would be a disaster for wildlife, and for the people of Tauranga.”