John Key: Key Notes

Column – New Zealand Government

I’ve been to Tauranga again this afternoon and I want to give you an update on the situation there.John Key: Key Notes

12 October 2011

I’ve been to Tauranga again this afternoon and I want to give you an update on the situation there.

As many of you will know, a container ship grounded on the Astrolabe reef, east of Tauranga, last Wednesday. It was carrying 1360 20-foot containers and had 1700 tonnes of heavy diesel oil on board.

As of about 6pm today, an estimated 350 tonnes of oil has leaked into the sea, some of which has reached Tauranga’s beaches. Some of the containers have fallen overboard and there are large cracks in the ship which could cause the ship to sink.

I want to assure you that the Government has done everything it can to reduce the environmental impact of this situation, from the moment the ship hit the reef.

Currently weather conditions are delaying salvage attempts, which is frustrating for all of us. Some people have asked why the salvage team didn’t get the oil off the ship earlier, while the weather conditions were clear.

The nature of the ship’s grounding, and the holes in ship’s hull and keel, created a number of very difficult issues for the salvage team. This included extensive damage to the ship’s own piping when it hit the reef, which meant the salvage team had to cobble together pumping and piping systems in order to pump oil from the ship.

The Government is putting every available resource into the clean up and recovery efforts, and this will continue.

Experts are working to salvage the ship and transfer oil to another ship as soon as possible. We’ve also got environmental response teams working to protect wildlife, the Navy has ships at sea, and civilians and defence personnel are cleaning up the beaches.

I’d like to pass on my thanks to everyone who has helped the Government’s response so far. There will be much more hard work to come.

For the latest updates and information, please visit the Maritime website at http://www.maritimenz.govt.nz. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is also hosting community briefings around the area – http://www.boprc.govt.nz/news-centre/media-releases/october-2011/rena-community-meeting-schedule-45/ – for details.

Best wishes,

John Key Prime Minister

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