MV Rena Update: Cargo Vessel Remains Intact in Bad Weather; Fresh Charges Filed Vs Captain

By @Len_IBTimes on

The MV Rena remains intact despite water swelling in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty, where it is still wedged on Astrolabe Reef as bad weather persisted in the area, bringing swells of up to 5 metres.

Officials have feared that the recent bout of bad weather could finally break the Rena in half, and they feared the worst Tuesday night.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce told the New Zealand Herald the odds of the ship breaking in two over bad weather were "greater than 50/50."

NZ Herald also reported no additional containers had fallen overboard, and while there was a fresh oil spill, Maritime NZ said the amount was not alarming.

High winds and water swells are still keeping the ship at the risk of falling apart.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Dr. Nick Smith implied Tuesday night that authorities could have done something soon after the cargo vessel struck the reef.

"At 2:20 a.m. (on Oct. 5), when the Rena hit that reef, in my view, an oil spill was inevitable given the extent to which the underside of the vessel was so badly damaged," Smith said at an environment debate in Auckland, Radio New Zealand reported.

Smith dismissed opposition parties' criticism of the authorities' response as "ill-informed and unfair on people that are trying to deal with an emergency situation."

The Labour and the Greens, and Green Party Labour co-leader Russell Norman, have questioned why cleanup equipment was not brought in sooner if an oil spill was expected.

Meanwhile, prosecutors Wednesday morning laid fresh charges against the ship's captain and navigator. Costamare Shipping, Rena's owners, could also find themselves prosecuted, Smith told the Herald on Wednesday.

The new charges under the Resource Management Act laid against the pair carry financial penalties of up to $300,000 for an individual and up to $600,000 for a company.

"The government is of a view we need to throw the full force of the law at those responsible, not only for the deaths of over 1,400 birds but also pollution to tens of kilometres of beaches. ... In fact, it would be remiss given that it is New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster if there was not a prosecution under the RMA," Smith said.



Join the Discussion