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The ongoing oil spill off the coast of New Zealand is going to get "significantly worse," according to the country's Environment Minister Nick Smith. Overnight, efforts to recover the 1,700 tons of oil on board the Rena, the Liberian ship that ran aground on an offshore reef last Wednesday, were halted due to bad weather. Meanwhile, the rate at which oil leaking is into the water has increased fivefold, resulting in what Smith verifies is now "New Zealand's worst environmental disaster in many decades."So far, 350 tons of oil have leaked from the ship, and more and more is reaching the shore. Teams and military personnel are already in place to clean up the oil and to treat affected wildlife. High seas and unpredictable weather have moved the ship, making it unsafe for workers to continue the recovery of the oil still on board.
Catherine Taylor, director of Maritime New Zealand, said recovery efforts should recommence in the next 24 hours. But things could get drastically worse at any second: If the boat breaks up, all of the remaining oil could be spilled into the sea at the same time.
At that point, the crisis would become a catastrophe for the fragile eco-system, home to seabirds, penguins and whales. It would be a bitter vindication for those in New Zealand fighting for clean energy.
More oil spills from the last six months:
Another Oil Spill Hits the Gulf of Mexico
Shell Oil Spill in North Sea has Loosed 55,000 Gallons So Far
Yellowstone River Oil Spill Now Extends 150 Miles Downstream