MNZ Misinformed on Corexit | The Jackal

14 Oct 2011

MNZ Misinformed on Corexit

In a report last night on Television One News at 6 O'clock, Heather du Plessis-Allan presented information about the Rena disaster.

For the most part, it was a well thought out and succinct report from the Bay of Plenty's beautiful Tauranga into the day's events surrounding the vessels condition and the authorities response to an ever precarious and dangerous situation.

However, while reporting on the decision to halt the use of aerial spraying of Corexit 9500, du Plessis-Allan made a number of non-factual comments that are not becoming of a proper journalist. In fact she has overstepped the mark into biased reporting and provided a disservice to the community. In the first chapter of this video she states
"In a setback, the use of dispersants to control the oil that is leaking has been abandoned."
Lee Stevens who is apparently a dispersal expert then said:
"The thing that we’re going to keep in the toolbox. Ah! There may be other situations where dispersants are still appropriate in this response. But ongoing aerial applications have been abandoned at this time," he said.

du Plessis-Allan followed this up with; "That means of the oil that does leak, more is expected to come to shore and kill greater numbers of wildlife."
For starters, it's not a setback that authorities have decided to stop using Corexit 9500 for now. MNZ may have finally realised that the highly toxic chemical should only be used in the open ocean, if at all.

MNZ breached the manufacturers guidelines by spraying a large amount of Corexit close to shore, where it can have an adverse effect on inhabitants. There is a liability issue here that Maritime New Zealand should be aware of.

The other issue with this section of last night's news on TV One is that it appears du Plessis-Allan has been misinformed about the effectiveness and safety of Corexit 9500.

Corexit 9500 is a most dangerous substance, and is hazardous for human health at levels of only 2.61 parts per million (ppm). It may appear as foam on waves and is four times as toxic as the oil itself. The toxic chemical will travel ahead of the oil spill and is virtually invisible.

There is more sea life within the ocean where Corexit is designed to disperse or sink the oil to, than on the beaches. Although the visual aspect of oil on our beaches is heartbreaking, it is nothing compared to the destruction currently going on below the waves.
But what makes yesterdays reporting about the use of Corexit 9500 even more questionable, is this New Zealand Herald article, in which Hayden Donnell writes:
MNZ has also decided not to use any more of the aerial dispersant Corexit 9500 because it has been shown to be insufficient to justify its application to the spilled oil.

"We have consequently ended the aerial application trials and will continue to assess all response options,'" said MNZ.

About 200 litres of dispersant was used on a small spill of fresh oil from the vessel this morning, but it was not effective enough to justify its continued use.

Environmental advisor Leigh Stevens said the dispersant would still be kept in the toolbox for possible future use.
It seems strange that an approximate amount of Corexit has been reported... surely MNZ know the exact amount of Corexit 9500 they have used?

MNZ may have decided to end the use of Corexit 9500 prior to the news broadcast, but I can confirm that spraying of the dangerous chemical was undertaken yesterday.

The problem with the MNZ use of Corexit 9500 is that it was not the right chemical for the job. I presume they did not even test the oil nor consult with the ships owners about what type of oil had been spilled before irresponsibly applying a large amount of a highly toxic chemical without proper consideration of the manufacturers guidelines or for the health and safety of good people of Tauranga.