New Zealand Oil Spill Worsens as Oil Hits Shore, Threatens Local Wildlife


New Zealand's Mount Maunganui Beach, where oil is now washing ashore. Photo: Ronnie Macdonald / CC

The unfolding oil spill in off the coast of New Zealand has worsened this afternoon, as the BBC reported that "fist-sized clumps of oil" have been found on Mount Maunganui beach. The potential disaster began on Wednesday, when the Liberian ship Rena ran aground on a reef. The ship is still there as efforts to recover the oil from the leaking vessel have been delayed by bad weather.The Rena only holds 1,700 tons of oil, a tiny amount compared to the scale of the BP oil spill. But even a small amount will pose a major threat to the Bay of Plenty, where the ship is grounded on the Astrolabe Reef. The area is home to a rich variety of wildlife, including seabirds, penguins and whales.

Seven blue penguins and two cormorants have already been treated, according to the Guardian. And things may well get worse. Not only has the bad weather postponed the recovery of the oil, it might break up the Rena, drastically increasing the rate of the leak, and the resulting threat to the area.

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More on New Zealand:
As Oil Threatens New Zealand, New Zealanders Say "We Can Do Better: (Video)
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Tags: Endangered Species | New Zealand | Oil

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