‘Oil slick in N Zealand may spread’
TAURANGA, New Zealand - Agence France-Presse
A volunteer looks at dead seabirds on the shore as thick fuel-oil from the stricken container ship Rena fouls beaches at Papamoa. REUTERS Photo.Fears grew yesterday that a ship stuck on a New Zealand reef may break up and release a new tide of oil, as its captain was charged over the nation’s worst maritime pollution disaster.
Prime Minister John Key said that cracks had been found in the hull of the stricken container ship Rena, and that the situation was precarious, with the boat listing at a steep angle in stormy seas. “We have identified stress fractures on the ship. We can’t rule out the risk of the ship breaking up, that’s certainly being monitored,” he told reporters in Tauranga where already beaches have been fouled and wildlife found dead.
Up to 300 tones of heavy fuel has leaked into the environmentally sensitive Bay of Plenty since the Liberian-flagged Rena hit the Astrolabe Reef, 22 kilometers off the North Island coast, Oct. 5. Officials have warned that New Zealand faces an even worse disaster if the Rena breaks up on the reef and releases all 1,700 tones of oil on board