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Oil Spill from Container Ship Rena Off Coast of New Zealand

37.6S 176.1E

October 17th, 2011 Category: Environmental Disasters

New Zealand - October 15th, 2011

Salvage teams are pumping oil from a stricken container ship off the New Zealand coast before bad weather arrives which could split the vessel in two and spew more oil onto beaches.

The Liberian-flagged Rena has been stuck for 12 days on a reef 14 miles (22km) off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, having already spilled about 350 tonnes of toxic fuel and some of its hundreds of containers into the sea.

The image shows the container ship Rena off the coast of North Island. The information present in the image (see full version) regarding the ship is generated automatically by SRRS’ ship-detection post processing module.

The circle indicates the area in which the oil has spread. In the full image, some black stains can be observed near the shoreline. Oil has washed up along about 37 miles of the coast, which is popular with surfers and fishermen. Nearly 1,300 birds have died in the spill, which is seen as New Zealand’s worst environmental disaster in decades.

The Guardian has reported that salvage teams are running out of time in their efforts to pump oil from the stricken Rena container ship before it breaks up or bad weather halts the operation. Today they were adding extra pumps to speed up the recovery of the oil from the 236m (775ft) vessel through holes in the side to a barge. More than 70 tonnes have been recovered, but there are fears that bad weather will halt the operation and possibly send the stern section, which contains more than 1,000 tonnes of oil, tumbling into 60 metres of water.

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