A timeline of the Rena disaster shows the utter lack of urgency with which the government approached the issue when the weather was good. They left it to Maritime NZ. Who left it to the shipping company. Now, the oil’s coming ashore. The promised soldiers didn’t show up yesterday. All the Nats can do is criticise locals for acting on their own.
Of course, you want trained people removing the oil. Of course, it’s not a permanent fix to remove oil now when it will just to replaced at the next high tide. But people will feel the need to act. And surely getting the oil off as quickly as possible is good, even if it has to be done again later.
So, here’s what they should have done. Used yesterday as a mass training exercise. Told the locals ‘we want your help, get down to the beach and we’ll train you up’. Then the first wave of oil gets picked up and the people have learned the right technique for the future when the oil really starts coming ashore. People feel they have contributed. And they know the government has a plan which they can be part of.
Instead, you had nothing. No soldiers cleaning up. No indication from the government when the clean-up would begin. Of course the locals act for themselves. I’d do it to if I saw the government fucking around with no sign of a plan.
All we’ve heard from the government is what can’t be done. Just excuses for their inaction. No plan. No sign that they are committed to doing everything they can. That may be just a matter of spin or PR, really but spin matters because it affects how the locals will behave.
Having an irredeemable fuckwit like Joyce in charge, whose sole aim seems to be to snipe at anyone who asks for better results, is a big mistake. Nick Smith is the person for the job. At least he gets how to communicate with the public and seems to actually care about the environment rather than regard all this as an annoying distraction from the job of building highways to nowhere.
The timeline shows clearly that the government was very slow off the mark on this:
Wednesday, October 5
2.20am: Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, was heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island. Maritime NZ said the cargo ship, which was carrying 1900 tonnes of fuel, was on a 10-degree list and some fuel had leaked from its hydraulic pumps.
Thursday, October 6
-An early morning flight by MNZ confirmed an oil slick stretching 2 kilometres.
-Four dead birds were found, covered in oil. An oiled wildlife response team was mobilised.
-The Director of Maritime New Zealand issued the owners with two notices. One, that a reputable salvor be appointed. Two, that MNZ can take control if it deems it necessary and the vessel owner must comply with the National On Scene Commander’s directions.
Friday, October 7
-Four little blue penguins and two shags affected by oil were rescued from Motiti Island. Six teams of responders are deployed and joined by 10 more teams on Saturday.
Saturday, October 8
-Fresh oil is spotted leaking from the cargo ship, which is on an 11-degree list, MNZ confirms.
-Specialists from around New Zealand and Australia join the more than 100-member strong oil spill response team led by MNZ. Three hundred defence force personnel are on standby.
-Oil is being moved within the vessel to get it away from the damaged parts of the hull.
Sunday, October 9
-Oil recovery teams head out on the water to collect oil. The oiled wildlife response is continuing
-About 10 tonnes of oil is pumped from the Rena to the bunker barge Awanuia.
Monday, October 10
-3500 tonnes of oily water has been recovered and offloaded at the Port of Tauranga.
-Clumps of oil are found washed up on the beach.
-Awanuia is currently alongside Rena and preparations are underway to transfer oil from Rena to the Awanuia, weather permitting.
On Tuesday, the ship shifted violently, the crew were evacuated, and about 300 tonnes of oil leaked.
It took over 24 hours for MNZ to say ‘hey, we see you’ve run your ship into a whooping great reef. Sort it out please’. Despite there being a known oil slick since Thursday the government still hasn’t taken control of the operation and oil only started being pumped off on Sunday, by which time it was too late to get it off before the weather closed.
The government only began taking this seriously on Sunday. Key had his flyover and is now trying to distance his brand from this mess – he spent yesterday putting up ‘brighter future’ hoardings down the road in Hamilton.
It’s not like the government didn’t have the capacity to respond. Instead of leading the clean-up, they have tried to deflect the issue on to who is to blame for the grounding. Doesn’t seem to be working as a political play. Doesn’t get a single glob of oil off the beach either.
Now, it looks like the Rena’s going to lose most of its oil. It’s going to be a mammoth disaster. And the Nats, rather than having acted quickly to get as much oil off the ship as they could and mobilised the locals for action, have sat on their hands and pissed off the locals.
Heck of a job, Joyc-ie.