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Rena report fails to answer important questions

Environment Spokesperson
3 December 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT

Rena report fails to answer important questions

The independent report into Maritime New Zealand's (MNZ) response to the Rena grounding fails to ask some critical questions and falls well short of allaying concerns that New Zealand is ready to deal with a significant oil spill event, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Moana Mackey .

“On one hand the report says this was a minor event compared to what could have happened, yet it also states that Maritime New Zealand 'buckled initially’ and struggled to cope.

“The report goes on to recognise that it was only luck which held the Rena together on the Astrolabe reef and prevented a much larger spill.

“It's seems contradictory that the report states that the response was ‘ultimately effective’ but then goes on to recommend that a review of the national strategy be undertaken to "ensure it properly covers the variety of serious maritime incidents to which MNZ, alone or in partnership with other agencies, may need to respond and any legislative or resourcing implications arising."

"This work should have been carried out immediately following the event as Labour called for at the time. Instead we have waited two years for a review which simply calls for more reviews on some of the most critical issues. And all the while near misses between vessels in New Zealand waters continue to occur.

"The report also does not address the impact of the National Government's decision to freeze funding for Maritime NZ on taking office in 2008, despite MNZ repeatedly warning that their funding levels were unsustainable and affecting their ability to monitor shipping safety and protect the environment.

“While the Government has announced further funding of 2 million dollars, this is to allow MNZ to expand their response capability to include contaminants other than oil, not to bolster their oil spill response capacity.

"Labour would also support a review of oil dispersants approved for use in New Zealand, including the controversial dispersal agent Corexit. Especially given that once again it was simply put down to luck that the ocean conditions did not allow it to mix with the heavy fuel oil and increase toxicity.

“Labour at the time of the Rena disaster called for a full commission of inquiry so that all relevant issues could be examined and questions answered. Today's report unfortunately falls well short of that.

"We cannot simply continue to rely on lady luck when it comes to protecting our precious marine environment.”


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