Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oh Joy

The grounding of the Rena has exposed our total lack of preparedness to handle even an average-sized oil spill, but that's not the only thing its exposed. According to Three News last night, there's something else Port of Tauranga isn't prepared to handle a spill of: Uranium:

documents obtained by 3 News show Tauranga harbour authorities had plenty of concerns about uranium just last year.

The harbour master warned:

- “It is not specified who would be responsible for cleaning up a uranium spill.”

- “There are no means of detecting radioactive materials in this port.”

- “The Tauranga fire service does not have any specialised detection equipment”.

The harbour authorities from the Bay of Plenty regional council today admitted nothing has changed.

In other words, no plan, no capability, not even a Geiger counter. And yet yellowcake transits the port all the time, on its way from Australia.

This isn't good enough. Our port authorities and government bodies should be able to respond to accidents in their area. And if they can't, and the consequences of an accident are severe enough, we need to think seriously about whether we should allow such materials to transit New Zealand waters.