Rena Cleanup Failures | The Jackal

11 Oct 2011

Rena Cleanup Failures

I felt pretty disgusted that authorities failed to stop children playing with the toxic oil that washed up on Bay of Plenty beaches early yesterday morning. It was simply outrageous that concerned citizens had to mount a cleanup, while authorities were conspicuous by their absence.

What is also concerning was the response from Steven Joyce when he said they had made a conscious decision to not bother cleaning up the oil on beaches.

This morning, Radio New Zealand reported:
Maritime New Zealand's national commander at the scene Rob Service says there was another small leak of oil from the damaged ship on Monday and warns more oil will come ashore with the current rough weather conditions and may spread further south. 

Mr Service says it is far better to wait until a reasonable amount of oil has accumulated before experienced teams start the clean-up. It is expected that volunteers may be called on to help at some stage.
This is absolute rubbish! Cleaning up the oil as soon as it lands on beaches is the best option. This is because another high tide takes a lot of the beached oil back out to sea. It doesn't just stay in one place as Rob Service and Steven Joyce believes.

The fact of the matter is that the authorities failed to react quickly enough to mobilize a cleanup crew yesterday. They were not ready because they thought the oil would not come on shore until Wednesday. Their attempts at spinning their failure is an insult.
It's been 264 hours now since the grounding and only ten tonnes of oil has been removed from the stricken vessel, with no released plans to rectify the situation. Approximately 1700 tonnes of heavy oil remain on the ship with a possibility of it breaking up in the storm.  

Approximately 10 to 50 tonnes has contaminated the ocean already. There has also been a bit of misreporting... According to Steven Joyce, they stopped pumping oil off the MV Rena because the Awanuia's bow thrusters failed, and not because of the impending bad weather. 
Click graphic to vote.
It's particularly interesting to see the government try to stay on message to promote their deep sea oil drilling plans with conveniently timed articles. Early this morning the Taranaki Daily News ran a story entitled Port in line for base to battle spill:
New Plymouth is being lined up as the site of a multimillion-dollar facility designed to rapidly respond to major pollution incidents off the New Zealand coast.

As Tauranga braces for what could be the country's worst oil spill as the container ship Rena threatens to break apart, the Taranaki Daily News can reveal that talks are well advanced over development of a rapid response facility at Port Taranaki.

The facility, with a rumoured price tag of $20 million, would be capable of dealing with incidents such as the grounding of the Rena and resulting oil spill in the Bay of Plenty.

The project would be funded partly by the Government and partly by a levy against both the shipping and energy industries. 

"It's no use having legislative response if we can't provide a physical one," said National MP Jonathan Young yesterday.
Let me get this right! After numerous assurances by the government that New Zealand has the capabilities to respond to an oil spill, we don't even have a dedicated facility in the entire country? Perhaps they should have called the article: Too little too late.

The article then goes on to say that the government can't even requisition vessels to help deal with an oil spill and the plan is to fund only one oil response equipped boat. This is not good enough.

Steven Joyce confirmed yesterday that two identified shipping containers contain hazardous materials, but the authorities are not saying what these substances are. As reports of new oil spilling come through this morning... now is a time for strong leadership.