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Seismic Testing Presents Significant Risk To East Coast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 14/11/2016 2:35 PM
Te Ikaroa – Defending Our Waters Press Release

SEISMIC TESTING PRESENTS SIGNIFICANT RISK TO EAST COAST

Anti-seismic-testing campaign group Te Ikaroa are calling upon the government to immediately halt all seismic testing along the eastern seaboard, on the heels of this morning’s 7.5 earthquake in Canterbury.

A peace flotilla in the Wellington harbour yesterday was organised by Oil Free Wellington in protest to the arrival of the world’s largest seismic testing vessel, The Amazon Warrior. The vessel, here to commence seismic testing for oil along the eastern seaboard, is currently unable to enter Wellington harbour due to significant structural quake damage at the port.

“Te Ikaroa are first and foremost concerned for the wellbeing of whānau along the eastern seaboard who are in fear of their own wellbeing and that of their whanau. In particular we extend our deepest sympathies to those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones in Kaikoura and Mount Lyford” says Tina Ngata, environmentalist and Te Ikaroa campaigner.

“This morning’s earthquake has demonstrated the seismic vulnerability of the eastern seaboard of Aotearoa. Here on the East Coast, we are close to the Hikurangi tectonic plate boundary which lies just off the coast. This is the boundary between the Australian plate and the Pacific plate, and it is constantly shifting. Some of the very best scientists in our country, including the government’s lead geologists, have noted the seismic vulnerability of this region. To heighten the risk of a seismic event by seismic blasting along this plate boundary defies all common sense – especially while we are still experiencing aftershocks. The last thing we need right now is for another event to be triggered through seismic testing. We are calling upon John Key to demonstrate his concern for the wellbeing of the communities along the eastern seaboard by immediately halting all seismic testing pending a review of the current level of risk.” The Amazon Warrior is due to commence imminent seismic testing for oil on behalf of Norwegian Oil giant Statoil. Seismic testing involves the dragging of a seismic airgun along the seabed, emitting seismic blasts every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, from now until next May. Statoil acquired their permit from American multinational oil corporation Chevron, and the permit extends along the eastern seaboard and to depths that are unprecedented for New Zealand. Seismic blasting has been proven to be disruptive and harmful to sea life, including marine mammals, and is opposed by coastal fishing interests and eco-tourism operators including Ngāi Tahu’s Whale Watch ventures.

Earlier this month, a petition was launched demanding that the Norwegian government, who hold the majority of shares for Statoil, withdraw the testing vessel from these waterways and denying consent for Statoil’s exploratory activities. The petition has been endorsed by over 60 hapu and iwi groups along the eastern seaboard, from the top of the South Island up to the East Cape of the North Island, and more are endorsing the call by the day.

“Hapu and iwi are very concerned about the impacts of seismic testing and seabed mining - and this is why many of them opposed the oil block offer in the first place” says Ms Ngata. “It’s appalling that government ignored the significant formal opposition to the block offer and are allowing this very risky practice to go ahead. We are concerned not only for the impacts of seismic testing and drilling upon quake vulnerability but also for the impacts that seismic testing has proven to have upon sea mammals, fish populations and delicate marine ecosystems. We’re also extremely concerned thatMaritime New Zealand has no vessels that can clean up a spill at the proposed depth, so a spill would have devastating results.” Further protests took place in Napier yesterday, where crowds gathered to voice their opposition to the activity. Event organiser Erena Tomoana noted that traditional ocean voyagers, hapu leaders and local community members turned out in force to express strong objections to the presence of Statoil and Chevron.

The petition launched by Te Ikaroa also invites support signatures from the broader New Zealand public, and has thus far collected nearly 1000 signatures from across New Zealand. The online petition can be signed at: https://www.toko.org.nz/petitions/norway-statoil-is-not-welcome-in-our-waters

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