More Scorpions


Via Wikipedia

Those danged scorpions are certainly buzzing around my brain today.  I am on a rant about the oil spill in the Tauranga Harbour.  I wrote about this a few days ago and this disaster is unfolding as we speak read.

The ship ran aground last Wednesday.  It was a clear, calm, sunny spring day in the beautiful harbour.  Astrolabe, the reef on which the boat foundered, is apparently well documented in all charts available for these waters.  We are told the auto pilot was on at the time of the grounding.  So, where was the crew?  Questions are being asked about this and also whether the master had been drinking and where he was at the time.

We hear that the master has been arrested overnight and charged under Section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act.  This covers “Dangerous activity involving ships or maritime products.”  According to the Dominion Post (our local newspaper) he has been charged with “operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk” under the Act.


Photo - Dominion Post showing containers sliding into the ocean.

And now today we hear that some seventy containers have slipped into the sea; some are floating and some are sinking.  These containers will certainly cause shipping hazards and no doubt the wreckage of these (and any other) containers will wash up onto the pristine beaches of Mount Manganui and Papamoa.  These two beaches are already covered with oil and the wild life is greatly affected by the spill.

Attempts to remove the oil from the ship have been hampered because of the bad weather.  And the weather forecast for the next few days isn’t good.  Swells of up to 5metres are expected, with rain and high winds.

The crew was taken off the ship yesterday because of safety concerns.

So this disaster is unfolding in front of us.  The Environment Minister, Nick Smith, has said that this was New Zealand’s worst maritime environmental disaster.  The ramifications of the master’s actions will resound around our country for many months and years.

The residents of Mount Maunganui where the oil has reached land, are taking matters into their own hands and cleaning up the beach, even though authorities have asked them not to.  They are not prepared to wait for the official cleanup.  A public health notice has been posted warning that the oil is toxic and should not come  in contact with the skin. From the video it is clear that people are not heeding this warning and are removing the oil globules with their unprotected hands.

Massey University’s wildlife centre in Palmerston North is being temporarily shut down as all of its staff are helping the animals affected by the Tauranga oil spill.   Speaking from the spill response centre in Mt Maunganui, wildlife centre director Dr Brett Gartrell said the centre would be closed from Friday, though two staff would stay until then to release animals there back to their homes.

Dr Gattrell said “Only common species had come in so far, but there were grave concerns for the endangered New Zealand dotterel. There were 60 pairs of the birds in the area, which made up a substantial part of their total population of 1700.  He added that “They’re the most endangered birds that are in this area.”

The wildlife centre was working with the Department of Conservation to establish if there was any need to pre-emptively capture the birds to avoid oiling.

I understand from my blogging friends that not much has been reported about this around the world.  Yesterday on BBC News there was a clip (from Sydney, Australia) about it.  But it is a major disaster and I shall continue to keep you updated on it as it unfolds.


32 responses to “More Scorpions

  1. I am sharing this on twitter, the more people who ‘hear’ the news, the better i think.

  2. Thank you for that. The ship continues to leak both oil and containers. We are told that the ‘hazardous material’ is still safe. As we say Watch this space!

  3. I don’t have a tv so I don’t know what has reported there but nothing in our paper or radio. Unacceptable. We are a global community and must be made aware of what is happening worldwide that affects our earth, especially something that is impacting the enviroment.

    Continuing to pray here…

    • Thanks for the comment. We hear about happenings around the world and I am always amazed when travelling how little new from NZ is reported. Guess we are too small in global terms. 🙂

  4. They still disregard the ocean rig oil spill disaster around northern rim of Gulf of Mexico-USA coast. There are over 400 rigs in a 250 mile arc and they want to drill off Florida. How much destruction can the planet continue to take?

  5. It’s so sad that such an intelligent species keeps making the same mistakes.

  6. If you weren’t writing about this, I never would have known. It’s odd/disturbing that this isn’t in the news. I hope they are able to somehow limit the damage.

    • Well I heard that it wasn’t being reported much in the northern hemisphere and as I feel very strongly about it, I decided to be the reporter.
      The damage and destruction is growing almost hourly. Birds and fish are affected and our beautiful pristine beaches are being littered with globs of oil. When will we ever learn?

  7. And we have incredible wool filled booms that mop up oil, made here in NZ and not being used! These booms have been used by overseas countries and Greenpeace but not here. The inventor was interviewed on TV last night.

    • We really have to question who is in charge and who is making the decisions? I was out and so didn’t see the interview. I will watch it on the PC later today.

  8. So sad … I try to block it out, because I feel helpless. Plus, it brings back the memories of the incident in the Gulf last year. Watching the ‘train wreck’ become more severe with every passing day. I want to look away.

    • But it can’t really be blocked out can it? It’s happening not far away from where I sit typing an answer.
      And yes, it is like a train wreck getting worse each day. I wonder who is in charge of this operation and who is making decisions. See the comment from Lynley above. 🙂

  9. This is a real horror story. I just hope the the people cleaning up the oil with their bare hands don’t get any ill effects. I can understand their desperation

    • Yesterday the Life guards at the beach told of people getting sick, vomiting and strong headaches. Hopefully, they have now learned to take notice of the public health warning. I too understand their desperation but they need to take heed and take some precautions.

  10. Judith, I used to live in Bermuda as an artist-in-residence at the Princess Hotel. When Hurricane Emily blew the roof off many a home, I went down to the beach with rubber gloves (all I could find) and joined my friends in balling up tar globs in sand and hauling it away. And THAT was just what was on the bottom of the sea from all the cruise ships.

    Betweeen greedy oil companies, stupid governmental policies, Americans who insist on driving five blocks to the market (I walk and take mass transit, we’re a one-car family), and the burgeoning cruise ship industry (plus Pres. Obama’s continued refusal to actually pursue wind energy), I truly fear for our plant. THANK YOU for speaking out, Judith. My prayers are with you all. Peace, Amy

  11. Amy thank you, My was just a little rant in a big universe. I despair of what we are doing to this planet through greed and ‘stupid governmental policies’. Did you see the comment from Lynley? We have these booms available here but are not using them. Why?

  12. I wonder Judith if it comes down to interdepartmental duck shoving. No one running a Ministry wants this bill on their budget. And with a general election so close no one in power wants to have obvious mistakes or failures to act pinned on them. These are just my ponderings. The sight of the birds killed by such thick oil is unbearable.

    Jim Mora on Radio New Zealand has been speaking with an experienced maritime consultant who has assisted with such disasters in other parts of the world and he was calling for action to begin rapidly within hours of the vessel grounding.
    We could have done a lot better on dealing with this disaster.

  13. Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)

    How very sad. Sending thoughts and prayers your way.

    • Thanks we need everybody’s prayers at the moment. The possible damage to our coastline is beyond imagination. So we hope that the damage control/clean up quickly rolls into place and wins!

  14. Thanks for keeping us posted on this, Judith. I’m so sorry this is happening to your beautiful country. I hardly read the news any more, so I appreciate your updates.

    • Oh it’s heartbreaking Patti. I do appreciate all the supportive comments from my blogging friends. We will just have to wait and see what the ramifications of this grounding really are. I guess we won’t know for a few months and we are going into summer when the beaches call to families.

  15. Actually, we’ve been hearing quite a lot about the wreckage on the news in France. I guess people are sensitive to the subject as we’ve had our fair share of marine environmental disasters too.
    Hope things get better soon. x

  16. I remember when we had our Gulf oil disaster, precious time was lost in the clean-up because there were arguments about who was supposed to do the clean-up, local authorities or BP Oil! So I can understand why people there aren’t waiting, but I wish they would take precautions.

    • Apparently 60 kms of coastline have been contaminated by the oil we are told. A large contingent of volunteers and professionals are to start clearing up again today. They will all be given protective clothing thank goodness!

  17. I wish there’s a little damage..Good thing you have post this.Thanks for informing and being concerned..

    • Thanks for the comment. This sort of thing should/must not be allowed to continue. But human’s don’t learn. We continue to do the same things in the same way and then get the same results.

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