“Delays at every turn” – EDS questions Maritime NZ’s disaster readiness

Press Release – EDS
The Environmental Defence Society , which earlier this week called for a faster response to the Rena incident, is now questioning the readiness of Maritime New Zealand to deal with such incidents.

“There is no doubt now that this is a very serious situation, made worse by the passing of every day,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“So we need to ask why Maritime New Zealand has been so slow out of the blocks when it should have contingency plans in place that are ready to go the moment an incident occurs.

“No attempts have been made to contain the oil with booms, there seems to be an experiment with dispersal agents, all the equipment required is not available in New Zealand and is being brought from overseas, expertise also seems not available here and is being brought in and no containers have yet been removed.

“And all this with worsening weather imminent. Winds are shifting onshore and strengthening with heavier swells likely to increase the probability of stressing a vulnerable hull and the ship breaking up.

“It is extremely disconcerting to see how delays at every turn are increasing the risks. We would have thought that clear plans would be in place to deal with all conceivable incidents and that their deployment would be rapid and certain.

“Whilst the focus at the moment must be on containing the scale of this unfolding disaster, an inquiry into the way it has been handled is inevitable.

“As New Zealand moves more aggressively into offshore oil exploration, New Zealanders will want to know that is something goes wrong we are ready to deal with it competently and swiftly. We also have large numbers of oil tankers, with much more oil on board than a coastal container ship, plying our waters on a regular basis. They have the potential for a much greater disaster.

“This should be a real wake-up call for all of us and we should learn as much as we can from it so as to better manage any future spills.

“New Zealand has more than 14,000km of coastline and some of the most important and biodiverse oceans in the world. We need world-class environmental standards and international best practice in oil spill management available at a moments notice.

” What we are seeing is not good enough,” Mr Taylor concluded.
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Environmental Defence Society
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