Sad little Penguins | The Jackal

30 Nov 2011

Sad little Penguins

On 22nd Nov, Dominique Schwartz, for Asia Pacific News reported:

Recovery teams dealing with the oil spill disaster off the New Zealand coast have returned the first batch of rescued penguins to the sea. 
Three hundred and fifty tonnes of thick fuel oil spilled from the Rena after it ran onto a reef in the Bay of Plenty early last month. The spill killed at least two thousand birds and closed beaches. A wildlife rehabilitation centre has been nursing about 350 oil-coated and injured birds back to health. 
On Tuesday the first of the patients were released on the beach at Mt Maunganui -- 49 little blue penguins whose home waters of Rabbit Island have been declared clean. The penguins had to have blood tests and swim for six hours unassisted to prove their health before being set free. 

The little blue penguins were released on Tuesday 22nd Nov, 2011. Then on the 25th Nov, it was reported that new dangerous goods had been found to be stored onboard Rena that were not on the ships inventory:

The manifest records the product as ‘Cover Bath Material’ and ‘Pure Tapped Bath Material’.
It is a by-product of the aluminium smelting process, which is considered low risk unless ingested or inhaled directly in its dry powdered form.
An investigation is underway to find out how an additional 21 containers of dangerous goods onboard the Rena was not declared on the ship’s manifest.
There are 490 tonnes of the product onboard, packed in one tonne bulk bags inside the containers.  
The bags have a polyethylene liner and are constructed of polypropylene, so are water resistant, but not water tight.  
Water is likely to have seeped into the bags within the container.

Despite Maritime New Zealand saying that the substance posses a low risk, the safety data sheet (PDF) for Pure Tapped Bath Material or Cryolite as it is meant to be called for shipping purposes, shows that it's highly hazardous:

  • OSHA Status: This product is hazardous under the criteria of the Federal OSHA Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200.
  • TSCA Chemical Inventory: This compound is on the EPA Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) inventory List

MNZ said the same thing about the 23,240 kgs of Alkylsulphonic Acid that was lost overboard, when it's highly toxic to marine life.

What makes this all the more despicable is that Maritime New Zealand knew about the Cryolite seeping into the ocean prior to the little Blue Penguins being released. MNZ then withheld the information until the 25th of Nov, the day before the election.

They have probably sent many of those Penguins to their deaths.