New Zealand Tries To Assess Oil Leak From Stranded Ship

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October 7, 2011

WELLINGTON (Dow Jones)–Aerial observation flights are planned Friday to determine how much oil is leaking from a stranded container ship off the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, with four seabirds already found dead, Maritime New Zealand said Friday.

The 32-year old MV Rena cargo vessel became stranded on the Astrolabe Reef in the early hours of Wednesday morning as it headed to Tauranga. The oil leak was detected late Wednesday.

Two of the cargo vessel’s holds are flooded and the vessel is on a 14 degree lean with salvage efforts expected to take some time.

National On Scene Commander Rob Service said an observation flight Thursday had confirmed an oil slick from the vessel remained, despite the application of dispersants. A flight Friday morning would assess whether the slick had shifted in direction or grown.

It would also re-examine the effect of dispersant application Wednesday. Other dispersant options were being considered, said Service.

A significant wildlife response is also under way following the discovery of four dead birds in the water near the vessel Thursday.

“We have specialist equipment and trained responders here ready to mount whatever response is required,” said Oiled Wildlife Response Coordinator Kerri Morgan.

-By Lucy Craymer, Dow Jones Newswires

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