Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rena: In At The Deep End

NZ is reeling from the Rena oil spillage… yet the reality is that, in comparison to other headlining spills around the world, this is nothing. And for that, we can be most grateful!
+2009: an Australian oil/gas rig blow-out spewed the equivalent of one Rena spill daily for 74 days!
+1989: oil tanker Exxon Valdez carrying 208 million litres hit an Alaskan reef… it spilled as much as 100 million litres!
+2010: the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico spilt as much as 780 million litres!
+NZ's 2003 near-miss: tanker Capella Voyager carrying 126.8 million litres of oil ran aground near Whangarei (we were damn lucky she did not lose her load).
Rena had only 1,700 tonnes of oil aboard: about 350 tonnes have leaked and roughly another 170 tonnes have been recovered.
The Government has drafted legislation to regulate the Exclusive Economic Zone with public submissions due by December. But all the paperwork in the world can’t clean up a small spill like the one off Tauranga, let alone an über-scale oil tanker spill or well blowout.
I trust when this Rena business is over, the government will consider serious strengthening of our crisis response capabilities… for when we have another real disaster (like the Christchurch EQs).
The Rena spill (although NZ's worst environmental "disaster") doesn't even count as one in global terms – yet it highlights how out of our depth we are. God help us if anything bigger happens...

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