Worst of New Zealand Oil Spill Yet to Come as Ship Starts to Break Apart

new-zealand-oil-spill-rena-cleanup photo

Photo: Getty Images

The ongoing oil spill off the coast of New Zealand began nearly two weeks ago, but it will get worse before it gets better, officials predict. Much worse. Since the Rena ran aground on a reef, oil has been slowly but steadily leaking into the ocean and reaching shore.

But the ship's position on the reef has become increasingly precarious, battered by high winds and 12 foot waves. The breakup of the ship and the spilling of another 1,000 tons of oil into the water are likely imminent, reported The New Zealand Herald. Thousands of volunteers and military personnel are working to clean the beaches and affected wildlife, and criminal charges have already been filed against members of the ship's crew.

Through the weekend, salvage crews continued an on and off effort to recover the oil that is still on the Rena, sucking it out through a tube. Bad weather conditions have made for dangerous conditions for on board workers. The shipping containers stacked on the deck are tilting dangerously; some have already fallen into the water.

The hull of the Rena is cracked, and could easily break apart in the very near future. It could also slip off the reef and into the water below, making recovery efforts significantly more difficult.

The 350 tons of oil that have already been spilled offer a chilling preview of what would happen more than double that amount hit New Zealand waters and beaches. As of Sunday night, more than 1,250 seabirds have been killed, despite efforts to help wildlife.

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More on the New Zealand oil spill:
Criminal Charges Filed as New Zealand Oil Spill Continues to Worsen
Oil Spill Will Get "Significantly Worse," Now New Zealand's Biggest Environmental Disaster In Decades
New Zealand Oil Spill Worsens as Oil Hits Shore, Threatens Local Wildlife

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