Leaking Liberian-registered ship sparks fears of environmental disaster

A Liberian-registered ship stranded 12 miles off the coast of New Zealand is leaking oil into the sea.
 
The accident has sparked fears of a major environmental disaster after officials estimated that 30 tonnes of oil has leaked from 775 ft cargo vessel Rena. The BBC reports that if the ship breaks in hard weather, a massive 1,700 tonnes of fuel could be spilled.

Eight birds suffering with effects from the oil spill have been found already, according to the Daily Mail. They are being treated at the wildlife rehabilitation facility in Tauranga on the North Island of New Zealand.

The Guardian reports that oil has already begun to wash up on beaches on the east coast of the island.

In a press briefing this afternoon, the New Zealand transport minister Steven Joyce revealed that 12 containers on the ship are thought to contain potentially dangerous materials.

It’s believed that Rena hit a reef and became stranded on Wednesday, though it’s not

yet known how the accident occurred. The Guardian reports that the

captain is being interviewed, and that the consumption of alcohol can’t

be ruled out.

A barge has pulled up alongside the ship and will begin pumping fuel from the vessel. It’s thought this could take two days, with the risk of bad weather delaying the operation.
 
“There is significant flooding in two cargo holds, there is a significant amount of water, some pumping has occurred and is ongoing,” explained Renny van der Velde, a spokesman from Maritime New Zealand.

She was heading to Tauranga – one of New Zealand’s largest ports – to load further cargo when she struck the reef.

None of the 25 crew onboard were injured in the accident.
 
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