The rough sea and waves as 7 meters (23feet) high caused the cargo ship Rena to broke in two Saturday off the coast of New Zealand. This has allowed more oil to leak. There is now a yawning 20 to 30 metre gap between the ship's bow and stern section, which is listing at 23 degrees to starboard and is likely to sink. Maritime New Zealand and police have closed access to Waihi Beach. Containers, milk powder and polystyrene debris were found at the beach, 60 kilometres north of the split ship's grounding point near Tauranga. The exact path of the debris and oil is not yet known.
"The expert advice we have received is for people not to approach items washed ashore for health reasons and we appeal to those people who have taken objects to return them to the beach where they can be managed by decontamination crews." Sergeant Dave Litton of Waihi Police
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is advising boaties to stay off the water in the affected area. The harbour master has established a cautionary area along the western Bay of Plenty, stretching from Waihi Beach to Maketu, where boaties should navigate "with extreme caution", keeping a lookout for debris and travelling through the area only in daylight. Environment Minister Nick Smith says it's unlikely there will be a repeat of the black tides that closed a number of Bay of Plenty beaches last year.
The cargo ship Rena stuck on the Astrolabe Reef, about 14 miles (22 kilometers) from Tauranga, New Zealand. The ship has been stranded on a reef since Oct. 5, 2011. There was estimated to be about 1,700 metric tons of oil aboard the ship at the time of the grounding. More than 1,000 metric tons of oil have been pumped from the ship since the grounding. In addition to the oil, the ship has more than 1,300 cargo containers. Since the accident, about 200-300 have been washed overboard. There were estimates of 898 containers still aboard the Rena as of Saturday. The New Zealand prime minister has called the wreck the worst maritime pollution disaster in New Zealand's history. (NZHerald)
Featured image credit: Todd Ransen