An oil spill from a stranded cargo ship off New Zealand is the country’s worst environmental disaster in decades. Officials say 350 tons of oil may have leaked from the 775 ft. Rena, which ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef off the port of Tauranga on Wednesday.
Bad weather has halted work to pump oil off the ship. Environment Minister Nick Smith said the situation was going to get “significantly worse” in coming days. “This event has come to a stage where it is New Zealand’s most significant maritime environmental disaster,” he told a news briefing in Tauranga.
Mr. Smith said the rate at which oil was gushing out of the ship had increased “fivefold” since it ran aground. “The government is determined to throw everything possible at minimizing the environmental harm of what is now clear to be New Zealand’s worst environmental disaster in many decades.”
The Rena, which was heading to Tauranga port, is still intact but is now listing at 18 degrees. Maritime New Zealand (MNZ), which is managing the emergency response, said an estimated 200 to 350 tons of oil had been released.