Satellite Planning for Oil Spill in New Zealand, January 2012
Wellington , Jan 8, 2012 (From AFP) - A cargo ship stranded on a New Zealand reef for the past three months has split in two in a severe storm, creating fears of a fresh oil spill, maritime officials said Sunday. The two pieces of the Rena have been forced 20-30 metres (yards) apart after waves of up to six metres hit the vessel, Maritime New Zealand spokesman Ross Henderson said."The National Response Team has been activated to respond to the potential release of oil from the ship and to treat any affected wildlife," he said. The Rena has been stuck on Astrolabe Reef off the North Island resort area of Tauranga since October 5 and salvors have been in the process of removing more than 1,000 containers from the vessel. Henderson said the forward section of the ship remained in its original position on the reef and while the stern was also still on the reef it was "moving significantly". When the Rena ran aground, about 350 tonnes of oil spilled into the sea and was washed on to once-pristine beaches, killing at least 1,300 birds. More than 1,000 tonnes of oil have since been pumped off ship but there is more on board. Before the storm hit, 389 containers had been removed from the Rena, 98 had been washed overboard and an estimated 881 remained on the ship.
WELLINGTON, Oct 9, 2011 (From AFP) - Barges began scooping up an oil slick on New Zealand's pristine Bay of Plenty on Sunday, as salvage crews prepared for the delicate task of pumping fuel from a crippled container ship stuck on a reef. The New Zealand navy also had two ships on the bay testing equipment designed to contain oil that spilled when the 47,000-tonne vessel Rena hit a reef off the North Island on Wednesday, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) said. MNZ on-site controller Rob Service said an Auckland-based tanker normally used to refuel cruise liners had arrived, and salvage crews hoped to begin pumping the 1,700 tonnes of heavy fuel aboard the Rena onto it later Sunday. The deployment of the two barges is the first time response teams have been able to get out on the water and attack the oil spill, which has already killed a number of seabirds. Previously, they had been limited to spraying chemical dispersants from aircraft and helping affected wildlife as they waited for specialist equipment to arrive.
The government has warned that the accident could become the country's worst maritime pollution disaster in decades if the Rena sinks, spewing oil into the pristine bay, which is home to whales, dolphins, seals and penguins. However, they describe the salvage operation as complex because the vessel is in the unique situation of having one end stuck hard on the reef while the other end is still floating. Toxic discharge has already killed a number of seabirds, with six Little Blue penguins and two shags receiving treatment at wildlife rescue centres after being found coated with oil, MNZ said. Teams were scouring the Bay of Plenty's beaches and islands for any other affected wildlife but indications so far were that none of the five-kilometre (three mile) oil slick had blown ashore, it added. Some 200 people, including specialists from Australia, Britain, Holland and Singapore, have joined the oil slick response team, with 300 defence personnel on standby if needed for shoreline clean up work. New Zealand health authorities on Sunday warned people not to eat seafood from the bay until further notice.