Oil from Grounded Ship Hits New Zealand Beach

Posted October 10th, 2011 at 3:35 am (UTC-5)
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Clumps of fuel oil from a grounded cargo ship began washing up on the shore of New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty Monday as salvage crews prepared for a storm bearing down on the area.

Workers installed covers to seal the ship’s fuel tanks in case the container vessel breaks apart in heavy seas and sinks during the storm that is forecast to arrive late Monday. They also moved the fuel from damaged tanks at the front of the vessel to more secure ones in the stern. Authorities are also worried about securing four of the ships cargo containers that are loaded with the hazardous alloy ferrosilicon.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key expressed concern about the operation after a visit to the site Sunday.

The Liberian-flagged container ship Rena, loaded with 1,700 tons of heavy fuel, got stuck on a reef near New Zealand’s Tauranga coast Wednesday. None of the 25 crew members was injured, but the ship’s hull suffered damage and pumps had to be used to remove water from the cargo area.

New Zealand health authorities have warned people not to eat seafood from the bay until further notice.