Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rena: The Clean-Up Cash

The Rena pay-up will be as messy as the clean-up.
Under NZ's Maritime Transport Act the ship's owner is liable for up to $12m… but this amount would've doubled to $24m if our govt had signed the Intl.Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage. Opps...we forgot.
Ok, so where's the clean-up money actually gonna come from?
Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the company that leased Rena, has made a "voluntary" $1m donation: Transport Minister Steven Joyce calls it a start. MSC says it's not an admission of guilt: managing director Kevin Clarke says the company "genuinely feels the suffering" in the Bay of Plenty. However Joyce says MSC does have a moral obligation to the clean-up effort, and may be called on again in the future.
MSC emphasises it does not own Rena, does not employ its crew and is not responsible for her maintenance and operation. MSC says it's not legally liable to pick up any tab for the clean-up...
So here's the 'money trail':
Rena's registered owner is Daina Shipping.
Daina Shipping's parent company is Costamare Shipping Co. (CSC).
CSC managing director Diamantis Manos has said he's "deeply sorry for the situation". However he claims CSC is not responsible for Rena’s operation.
CSC leased Rena to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). But MSC says it does not employ Rena’s crew and is not responsible for its running.
When you check CSC's website, you read the Liberian-flagged Rena was chartered back to it by MSC [you'll also see CSC has some 65 subsidiary companies registered in Liberia. This is a common practice for companies wishing to reduce their responsibility levels].
Rena is technically managed and crewed by another Costamare subsidiary, Ciel Ship Management. An article in Lloyd's List – the definitive source of shipping information – says "legal liability remains with owner Costamare and its insurers."
So who I$ responsible? Everyone's playing semantics. Once that's unraveled, we'll know who to present the bill to.
NZers are pretty good at accepting genuine apologies. But "sorry" is not a 'get-out-of-jail-free' card. CSC's apology was as slow as the disaster response, and I haven't heard one at all from Mediterranean Shipping. I did however hear stupid comments from Hone Harawira MP [read: Major Pillick], urging the Rena captain be hanged! Little wonder the fearful sailor's name and whereabouts have been suppressed by the court.
What's needed now is not ridiculous rabid rhetoric...but cold hard cash. Someone must pay for the clean-up: why should it be the very people who this disaster has been visited upon?

[An ironic postscript: stuck in a container aboard Rena on Astrolabe Reef are 4000 cases of sauvignon blanc... made by Marlborough winery, Astrolabe Wines.] 

PS: 22 Oct.2011 - And now we discover the $12m government fund to help clean up oil spills has been DELIBERATELY SCALED DOWN for years, becoz some govt.DICKHEAD decided there were too few oil spills to warrant it!!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be great if those who could potentially benefit from this disaster would stop politisizing it, and just get on with the fix! This is not a time for scoring cheap points (Labour, Greenpeace, Harawira, East Coast drilling opponents etc). It's a time to pull together.