NZ Vessel Oil Spill Update: Vessel Deforms, Soldiers’ Help Sought in Massive Rena Oil Spill

By @Len_IBTimes on

The MV Rena, the cargo vessel that ran aground on New Zealand's Astrolabe Reef, is in danger of breaking up, a salvage manager said Wednesday.

Oil is washing up on the shorelines, particularly Mount Maunganui and Papamoa beaches. Soldiers have been called out to help in clearing up the beaches, and more than 50 birds have been found dead.

New Zealand salvage manager Bruce Anderson told the Herald Wednesday morning the hull of the Rena had started to bend amid rough seas and high winds. Metal plating on Rena has begun deforming, as the vessel is now listing at 18-19 degrees with its bow firmly wedged in on the Astrolabe Reef.

Carrying 1700 tonnes of fuel, Rena had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island, a week ago.

Maritime New Zealand said on Wednesday afternoon some fuel from hydraulic pumps on the Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had leaked, but its fuel tanks were still intact. However, due to bad weather, one of its main tanks was breached on Monday afternoon while a crew was off-loading the vessel, causing an increased oil spill from an estimated 20-30 tonnes to somewhere between 130 and 350 tonnes of oil by Tuesday morning.

The full impact of the environmental disaster brought by Rena is still unknown, but architects are expected to release estimated figures soon.

MV Rena's captain has appeared in Tauranga District Court. The media has learned that the captain is a Filipino who was celebrating his 44th birthday at the time of the reef crash. His name and other details were kept from the press.

The captain is facing a charge under Section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act of operating a vessel causing unnecessary danger or risk to a person or property, carrying a maximum penalty of $10,000, or a maximum term of imprisonment of 12 months, the Herald reported.

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