Not sure if this is making much news up in Canada, but it’s a big thing down here in New Zealand.
This is the container ship Rena, 17km off the coast of New Zealand in the Bay of Plenty. You may recall I spent a decent amount of time in the Bay of Plenty, between Tauranga/Mt. Maunganui, Whakatane and Opotiki. The Rena struck a reef 17km from the shore of Tauranga/Mt. Maunganui last Wednesday and got stuck, along with ripping holes into its hull. Once stuck, oil started leaking from the ship. The ship carries 1700 Tonnes of oil, which compared to a tanker is paltry (On the tiny end of tankers, 10,000 tonnes, at the mega size, 300,000+ tonnes), but considering the distance to shore is still a sizable amount. At first the leak was considered to be in the range of 10-20 tonnes since Wednesday. The leak has now been estimated at 200-300 tonnes so far.
When I was at Mt. Maunganui I spent some time on their lovely beaches.
This is a major summer destination for Kiwis, and summer is just around the corner. It was a lovely place. Unfortunately, the oil reached shore yesterday.
And things are going to get worse before they get better. The weather has gotten severely rougher in the last few hours and the ship is now leaning at an 18 degree angle. Containers are starting to fall off the ship and into the sea, including containers with hazardous material inside. That, and this was just a small part of the leak that washed ashore so far – considerably more is expected to be found tomorrow morning.
The government is under a lot of fire for not moving fast enough. Only 10 tonnes of oil has been pumped off the ship so far (in other words, next to nothing), and those operations have now halted due to the weather. The primary method to try and deal with the oil has be using dispersants – something many kiwis oppose as it’s simply using one pollutant to deal with another. The government is also asking the public to NOT try and clean up the oil. Kiwis LOVE their natural environment and beautiful countryside, so they are naturally out on the beach anyways, cleaning the best they can, and angry with the government for admonishing instead of supporting them.
It’s sad to see, both the actual incident and the huge amount of misinformation on the internet on this (or the general cluelessness of people). It is NOT a oil tanker leak, as many believe. It’s a simple container ship, but because these are big ships (the Rena is 235m long), they take huge amounts of fuel/oil to move across the oceans. This is NOT a cause to rally anti-oil movements to, which if you read the comments on CBC.ca, you would be led to believe otherwise (my IQ dropped a few points this evening reading those comments – morons).
If you’d like more information, the main news outlet here in New Zealand is the New Zealand Herald. Far better to get it from closer to the source than international news outlets. They’ve got lots of information and news updates there.