Nats’ Rena spin all at sea

Written By: - Date published: 1:19 pm, October 19th, 2011 - 40 comments
Categories: disaster, Mining, spin, sustainability - Tags: ,

The Nats are clearly at panic stations over the public backlash on their handling of the Rena.

Last week, Nick Smith was calling this our “worst maritime environmental disaster”. Now, National pollster David Farrar and National shiteater Cameron Slater are trying to minimise the Rena disaster by comparing the number of dead animals to those killed by other means (Slater also gets in some racism. Nice).

As one emailer put it: “it’s like saying the Christchurch earthquake was no big deal because more people die of cancer”.

These birds didn’t die naturally. They didn’t die for an economic purpose. They didn’t die in a natural disaster. They died needlessly because New Zealand lacks the capability to properly contain even a relatively small oil spill.

Dead birds is hardly the only effect of the Rena. If the ship does break apart on Astrolabe reef, it could poison that valuable fishing ground for years and kill tourism. Already, the cost of the clean-up is in the millions, not counting the further hit to New Zealand’s reputation as a clean, green tourism destination.

Meanwhile, Key visits oiled birds and says they’re the price of economic ‘progress’. The article is the classic damning ‘straight report’:

Prime Minister John Key was given a “watered down” tour at the National Oiled Wildlife Centre this morning, after staff decided he wouldn’t want to get oily..

…While Key said he believed the saddest images were of the dead wildlife, he didn’t personally visit the autopsy room or see any oiled animals yet to be cleaned.

Phil Goff lent a hand when he went to see the oil and the locals asked him to help out. Key won’t even see the dead birds, let alone help out. He was much more comfortable looking at the live ones:

“They’re sweet,” Key said of the little blue penguins, happily swimming in their pool.

“We know over 1200 birds have lost their lives, we need to try and minimise that as much as we can. The great work that’s happening here is certainly saving a lot of lives.”

Has this environmental and economy disaster made Key reassess his silly “balance our economy opportunities with our environmental responsibilities” line? Not a bit of it:

Answering queries about offshore drilling, Key said it was a “balancing act” between business and the environment.

“We need to protect the environment as much as we can but not to the point where we do absolutely nothing.

“This is a tragedy that’s occurred [through] no fault of any New Zealander –  this is a boat that’s run aground and accidents do happen, whether they’re on land or on sea or in the air,”

Yeah. Accidents do happen. Sometime containment valves blow off oil wells kilometres below the sea’s surface and it takes months to close it up. National says that the damage that could be done by such a disaster is worth pushing ahead with deepsea oil, even though we have piss-poor capability to handle oil spills.

If Key has his way, some day a whole lot more little blue penguins may be washing ashore covered in oil and Key will be alright with that because it’s a “balancing act” and the environment sometimes has to pay the price so foreign companies can make huge profits digging up our oil.

40 comments on “Nats’ Rena spin all at sea”

  1. Blighty 1

    trying to diminish the significance of an issue is a classic fall back line when you’re losing.

  2. Uturn 2

    “They didn’t die for an economic purpose.”

    Yeah they did. Delivering cargo is an economic purpose. A pukeko run over by a bus on the motorway dies for an economic purpose. Birds run over by jet skis on the wekend could be classed as a leisure related fatality, but only if the driver isn’t Sean “Puff Daddy” Combes filming a new fragrance advertisement.

    “National says that the damage that could be done by such a disaster is worth pushing ahead with deepsea oil, even though we have piss-poor capability to handle oil spills.”

    So Labour have pledged to fund research and testing into forwarding safer drilling practices? No. They haven’t. Both poo-pooing oil as an abstract evil source of energy and playing down the reality of the dangers of extraction is great fun, but actually making the job safer takes a bit more thought.

    Ideology aside, is there some reason why we can learn to clone a sheep, but can’t learn to drill safely? I find it hard to believe there would be no market for that knowledge, since an oil company exec recently mentioned the fact that oil spills are not profitable ventures for oil companies.

    • Blighty 2.1

      I think by economic purpose, they mean killing the birds for food or materials. We’re not using the bodies of these birds for anything.

      “So Labour have pledged to fund research and testing into forwarding safer drilling practices?”

      Labour has pledged an R&D tax credit. It’s not assigned to any particular industry.

      • insider 2.1.1

        Let’s be real, all the drilling technology will be sourced offshore from companies that do this all the time around the world. R&D tax credits will likely have no role.

  3. tsmithfield 3

    So does Phil Goff support deep sea oil drilling or not?

    Because from his “clarification” it seems that his position is pretty much identical to Keys.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Ah, no, Phil Goff says that the will be no new drilling until we can be sure that any spills can contained quickly, Jonkey says that they’ll start as soon as they’ve given the rights to our oil away.

      • tsmithfield 3.1.1

        Nah. According to the quotes from Key above:

        ““We need to protect the environment as much as we can but not to the point where we do absolutely nothing.”

        In effect this is exactly the same as what Goff said, because the only absolutely guarantee no oil spill from drilling activities is to outright ban it. Any safety system carries a degree of risk, no matter how small.

        • McFlock 3.1.1.1

          “There shouldn’t be deep sea drilling until we know there are safeguards in place that can absolutely be relied upon,” he said last Thursday.

          “I’m not confident that there is.”

          gives them the chance to present clear safeguards, if none of the prospectors can then that would be a “moratorium”. But if 2 can and 20 can’t, it would not be a “moratorium”.

          As opposed to Key’s slithering about.

          It’s a continuum, with “no drilling because it can never be 100% safe” on one end and “drill baby drill, who cares about the birds?” at the other. To argue that people on either end are saying “exactly the same” thing is about as honest as lying about an election date so you can blame labour for national doing nothing.

          • tsmithfield 3.1.1.1.1

            You don’t understand the concept of safety and risk do you?

            Either Goff wants deep sea drilling with an acceptable level of risk, or he doesn’t want it at all. From his various confused ramblings on the issue it appears he does want deep sea drilling at an acceptable level of risk. In that respect both Goff and Key are the same.

            • Pascal's bookie 3.1.1.1.1.1

              But the way each is framing their position implies that they have differing definitions of ‘acceptable’.

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.1.2

              For oil major shareholders across the other side of the world, NZ suffering a major oil spill in its waters is clearly acceptable. After all its in someone else’s back yard not theirs.

              Just check out what the oil companies find ‘acceptable’ off the coast of Nigeria.

              No my good friend, its time for NZ to set its own standards and requirements.

            • McFlock 3.1.1.1.1.3

              keep spinning, ts.

  4. tsmithfield 4

    Do you really think so?

    Goff says he wants safeguards that can absolutely be relied on. Then he says he is not calling for a moratorium on deep sea drilling. Well, if he wants absolute safety then he effectively is calling for a moratorium because the only way to ensure absolute safety is not to start in the first place. So he needs to decide what it is he actually wants.

    However, drilling down, so to speak, it appears to me that, in his own confused way, he agrees with Key who said:

    “We need to protect the environment as much as we can but not to the point where we do absolutely nothing.”

    This statement encapsulates the concept of acceptable risk. Obviously, in the case of deep sea drilling the bar would be very high. However, it will never be absolutely risk free.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      This statement encapsulates the concept of acceptable risk. Obviously, in the case of deep sea drilling the bar would be very high. However, it will never be absolutely risk free.

      The bar is not “very high” as that would impinge on profitability; the bar is set as low as possible and in practice met only on advance notice audit days.

      Just like Pike River.

      • tsmithfield 4.1.1

        So far as I know we don’t do any deep sea drilling at the moment, so there aren’t any standards to criticise yet. So, I think you are jumping the gun in your assumptions.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          I’m not criticising any specific standards, I’m criticising your faith in standards.

          Just look up the hundreds of reported (and many more unreported) offshore drilling incidents. Deepwater Horizon is the one everyone knows about, but there have been numerous other fatalities and spills in recent years. Plenty of standards there, written by the best experts in the world.

          Its more profitable to cut corners, regardless of what the manual says, therefore corners will be cut.

          • tsmithfield 4.1.1.1.1

            It is our authorities that set and enforce the standards, not the companies. So, it depends on how high we set the bar and how well we enforce them.

            Anyway, I am not trying to argue for deep sea drilling here. I am just demonstrating that both Key and Goff are on the same page in this respect. Both want deep sea drilling. Both want the environment protected as far as it can be while still allowing deep sea drilling to be a profitable activity.

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1.1.1

              And I am stressing the fact that you have too much faith in standards and how they may or may not be enforced.

              Here is a list of major offshore rig blow outs and deaths.

              http://home.versatel.nl/the_sims/rig/i-blowout.htm

              The site has many other accidents listed, some of which have killed dozens.

              YAY for standards and enforcement huh.

  5. John D 6

    We don’t hear too much about the birds (some endangered) and bats killed by wind farms.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      That’s because very few are. A significant oil spill tends to destroy whole ecosystems however.

      The Standard deserves better trolls than this.

      • John D 6.1.1

        So you have some data to back up your claims Colonel Viper?
        Clearly you have no concern for the Sea Eagles, Vultures, Kites, bats etc that get killed by windfarms

        Quite honestly, I am getting a bit fucking tired of dealing with ignorant twats like you

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          So you have some data to back up your claims Colonel Viper?

          John D, I know people who monitor environmental and conservation impacts at a significant wind generation site.

          The specific data is confidential; get your own.

          Clearly you have no concern for the Sea Eagles, Vultures, Kites, bats etc that get killed by windfarms

          I’d be concerned for the ones which were killed, which is sweet FA of them.

          Quite honestly, I am getting a bit fucking tired of dealing with ignorant twats like you

          Fuck off then, I won’t miss you 🙂

          STD NEEDS BETTER TROLLS lol

          • John D 6.1.1.1.1

            STD NEEDS BETTER TROLLS lol

            Good, then fuck off Standard […], I will not miss you either you either you smug, self-satisfied, [… some snips of repeated gratuitous obscenities. r0b].

            LOL!

          • John D 6.1.1.1.2

            The specific data is confidential; get your own.

            Holy fuck that says a lot about you mate.
            What a massive own goal.

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1.2.1

              Yeah the massive own goal is that you ain’t getting the data and don’t know the facts; I am clearly closer to it than your own fictional narrative.

              Do your own research.

        • John D 6.1.1.2

          Of course, in the face of overwhelming evidence that what I say is true, I would love to [… some snips of repeated gratuitous obscenities. r0b] while muttering the word “denier”.

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.2.1

            I would love to [… some snips of repeated gratuitous obscenities. r0b] while muttering the word “denier”.

            So you are now creating a new class of “wind turbine bird and bat strike deniers”?

            What a fool.

          • The Voice of Reason 6.1.1.2.2

            Could you point us in the direction of some overwhelming evidence, please? I know I too am a smug, self satisfied etc. but if this actually true, then I’d like to know about. That is, if you haven’t fucked off already.

          • mik e 6.1.1.2.3

            John doe you belong on Kiwiblog where abusive idiots like yourself proliferate.

            • logie97 6.1.1.2.3.1

              MODS

              Any chance of putting “john d” in the trash please? His discussion is nothing but expletives and adds nothing to the discourse.

              [Tried to tidy up the worst of it. r0b]

        • Mac1 6.1.1.3

          John D raised a question which I have not even thought about, so I did some quick google searching. Tried “wind farms birds”. In the US, 30-40,000 bird deaths a year are due to wind farms. All other ‘non-natural’ causes of bird deaths range from a few millions to 500 million depending on whether its car collisions, power lines, windows or cats. There are studies for NZ conditions, too, that are available arising from that simple google query.

          Systems can ameliorate bat and bird deaths. Bats don’t go near radar transmitters placed to deter them from going close to wind farms. Radar in the US detects bird flocks migrating at a distance and stops the blades until they have gone past. Modern large, slow-speed blades are less lethal than fast spinning blades. Bats don’t like high wind conditions but prefer low wind which reduces risk.

          This at times rather bad tempered discussion originally came from a comparison of damage caused by wind farms versus oil spillage. A ship with its own fuel oil for one voyage is severe in damage when spilled into the environment, as we’ve seen with the Rena, but far less than a tanker. Then we have deep-sea drillers which don’t have risk managed at a level that I can accept. These do seem to have a whole different order of magnitude from wind farm damage.

          NickS makes a very good point about numbers of dead versus local population health below at 6.2.

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.3.1

            Calling moi “bad tempered”? 😛

          • The Voice of Reason 6.1.1.3.2

            Cheers, Mac1. I’ve always considered them a blight on the landscape, but never really thought about the affect on the local wildlife. I’ve got a mate who does maintenance on the ones in the Manawatu, next time I see him I’ll ask what he’s seen doing his rounds.

            • Mac1 6.1.1.3.2.1

              It seems there are other effects such as displacement from habitat. Different bird species have different reactions to turbines in terms of flying ability. Predators can become fixed on their prey and not register a turning blade, and of course ground birds aren’t worried at all. Flight paths also come into the equation.

              I think the studies I’ve had a quick squiz at might be more profitable than anecdotal evidence from a maintenance man!

              I actually like wind turbines, BTW. In some landscapes they look smashing- they were all over Europe, when there on holiday. I remember them in the inland Burren country of Ireland, on the ridges overlooking Greek waterways, on islands and in vast plains. I did wonder as I gazed upon the Pont du Gard in France whether the ancient Gauls muttered about that ‘bloody Roman visual pollution” as we do now about wind farms.

    • NickS 6.2

      We don’t hear too much about the birds (some endangered) and bats killed by wind farms.

      As well as failing to understand the basics of climate change, you also appear to not understand really basic population biology dynamics. i.e. it’s the number of dead vs local population health, not the raw number you moron.

      I suppose next you’ll reveal to us that evolution is teh wrongzors…

    • Daveosaurus 6.3

      To the best of my knowledge, to date, not one kiwi, kakapo or takahe has ever been killed by a wind turbine. If you have any evidence – any, at all – of any wind farm being a danger to any kiwi, kakapo or takahe, then by all means publish it for the world to see.

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