October 11, 2011
Fears that New Zealand could face a large-scale environmental crisis have escalated as the oil leaking from the container ship Rena into the sea off the Tauranga coast increased by as much as ten-fold.
The news came as the vessel’s remaining crew were evacuated following a mayday alarm amid heavy swells.
The New Zealand environment minister, Nick Smith, said the fresh release of oil into the sea meant the Rena spill was the country’s most serious ever maritime environmental disaster.
Speaking at a media conference on Tuesday afternoon, he said the consequences had been “inevitable” since the ship ploughed into the Astrolabe reef in calm waters in the North Island Bay of Plenty last Wednesday morning.