Editorial: Rena was disaster in the making

By ANTONY PHILLIPS - Editor


Accidents do happen but can we really term the stranding of the cargo ship Rena an "accident"?

News reports make it sound distressingly like a "disaster waiting to happen".

Questions have been raised as to whether the ship's charts were in good order. There appeared to be a "near miss" with another vessel off the coast of Napier.

The captain may or may not have been celebrating his birthday. In either case, he has been arrested and charged under the Maritime and Resource Management Acts.

A massive container ship is stranded on a clearly-marked reef and looks increasingly like it will break up. Oil is streaming into the ocean and onto beaches. The marine environment is contaminated and hundreds of birds have died. Containers of cargo, some of them from Hawke's Bay, are tipping into the ocean. The Port of Tauranga may have to shut down its operations ahead of a busy cruise ship season.

It's an absolute shocker.

New Zealand's largest marine disaster is happening just up the coast from Hawke's Bay.

It's far worse than the Jody F Millennium which ran aground on the beach at Gisborne on February 6, 2002.

Twenty five tonnes of fuel oil was spilled from the Jody F Millennium. Up to 300 tonnes has spilled from Rena.

What is puzzling is why an offer of fast-response barges built for this sort of situation and capable of having oil pumped into them from the Rena was not accepted by the authorities.

The Auckland manufacturer had the collapsible barges ready to send to the UK when Rena hit the reef. An offer was immediately made to authorities to redeploy them to Bay of Plenty to start taking off oil.

They could have been there in a day and there was still three days of settled weather.

The company's offer was not refused as such. It was not even responded to.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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