Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bad news from Tauranga

The Rena has sprung another leak, and the size of the spill has increased by a factor of ten, to between 130 and 350 tonnes. As one Tauranga resident noted, that's pretty much their summer gone. The oil will foul the beaches and make them unswimmable for months. The ship owners are responsible for the reasonable cost of cleanup, but they're not liable for the cost of the wider damage their pollution will cause to the local economy. And the legal penalties come nowhere near those costs: a paltry $200,000, plus $10,000 a day. Pretty obviously, that needs to be substantially increased.

At this stage its worth reminding people of our capability to respond to an oil spill. Below is exactly one third of our national oil recovery fleet:

Fills you with confidence that they'll be able to handle it, doesn't it?

On the positive side, this should be a death-blow to National's plans for offshore oil drilling. The public were already dubious in the wake of Deepwater Horizon, and now with a demonstration of exactly what a major oil spill means for our way of life, offshore drilling will be about as popular as mining in national parks.