Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) -- New Zealand authorities are working to contain an oil slick heading toward shore from a container ship that is caught on a reef near the North Island port of Tauranga.
“In all likelihood the situation with the oil is going to get worse before it gets better,” Transport Minister Steven Joyce said at a news conference in Tauranga televised by Sky News. “We should expect oil to come ashore.”
Oil-soaked birds have been found on the water as the slick extends 2,000 meters from the ship, Maritime New Zealand said in a statement on its website. Authorities have conducted aerial and on-water assessments, and are spreading chemicals to help disperse the fuel.
The 236-meter (774-foot) Rena struck the reef about 12 nautical miles off the coast early on Oct. 5, and remains stable on the rocks. Two of the ship’s holds have flooded and the ship is listing. Fuel oil has escaped from damaged pipes, although tanks containing more oil are undamaged, Maritime New Zealand said.
More than 100 staff are involved in preparation for an operation to collect the oil, including specialist vessels, an oil boom, and personnel and equipment from Australia, Joyce said. Wildlife rescue staff are also getting ready, he said.
Maritime New Zealand, a government agency, is in contact with the owner-appointed salvage company, with a priority of emptying the fuel tanks. The Rena is owned by Liberia-based Daina Shipping, according to Bloomberg data. Mediterranean Shipping Company has chartered the vessel, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd., the world’s largest dairy exporter, has 89 containers of product destined for customers in Asia and the Middle East on the ship, the Auckland-based company said in an e-mailed statement. The condition of the cargo is unknown, it said.
--With assistance from Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne. Editors: Brendan Murray, Paul Tighe
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