Oil washes on to New Zealand shore from grounded ship

October 10th, 2011 - 4:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Wellington, Oct 10 (IANS) Oil spilled from a Liberian-flagged cargo ship stuck on a reef off New Zealand began washing ashore around the port city of Tauranga Monday.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ), the country’s shipping authority, warned people to stay out of the sea and to avoid touching the oil and eating seafood in affected areas along the east of the North Island, reported Xinhua.

A fuel tanker had begun taking fuel of the 47,000-tonne Rena, which grounded early Wednesday on the Astrolabe Reef, about 12 nautical miles offshore, said MNZ.

However, oil had washed ashore in Tauranga “in individual clumps of about fist-sized patties about 5 mm high and stranded on the tide line about every 700 to 800 mm apart,” said an MNZ statement.

“People should not touch or attempt to clean up oil as it is toxic,” it said.

“A public health warning has been issued. No shellfish or fin fish should be eaten from waters with visible oil contamination.”

Greece-based Costamare Inc., the parent company of Daina Shipping Co., registered owner of the 3,032-TEU Rena, issued a statement Saturday, saying it was cooperating fully with the New Zealand authorities and every effort was being made to control and minimize the environmental consequences of the grounding.

It said the Rena, which was built in 1990 and had a deadweight tonnage of 47,230, was carrying 1,351 containers when it grounded.

The 236-metre Rena was reportedly carrying milk powder, timber, meat, fish and a small amount of the hazardous material ferrosilicon, an alloy of iron and silicon used in making cast iron and steel, when it ran aground.

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