The Wall Street Journal has blown the lid on how long Fonterrra has known that New Zealand milk has been tainted with the melamine-related chemical ”Dicyandiamide, or DCD–a substance that in high doses is toxic to humans–in milk powder“. A three year long trial of the novel product only finished in New Zealand early last year.
It’s not looking good for the small dairying nation because it seems that the problem was known about at least as far back as September, two months before a half billion dollar stock market venture for the company in late 2012.
And what’s worse, the WSJ says it looks like the New Zealand government advised Fonterra that the “low levels of DCD found in its products weren’t a concern.”
In a report headed “Fonterra Knew of Tainted Milk Before Fund Launch” The WSJ said that the world’s largest exporter of dairy products, Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd:
“knew of the presence of DCD in New Zealand’s milk supply before launching a new shareholder fund late last year.
The company said it chose not to disclose the chemical findings before launching a 525 million New Zealand dollar (US$438.9 million) fund last November because it wasn’t “material” information. The Shareholders’ Fund gave investors access to the cooperative, which produces about a third of the world’s traded dairy products and had revenue of NZ$19.8 billion in the year to July 31, for the first time…”
The WSJ went on to make the link between Fonterra and the 2008 Sanlu tainted milk scandal in China where baby formula had been contaminated with melamine, causing the death of at least 6 Chinese children and causing a further 300,000 to become sick.
Fonterra held a sizable stake in the Chinese company, which claimed the NZ giant had advised it about permitted levels of Melamine. Sanlu’s former chairwoman, Tian Wenhua, testified at her trial:
“that she made the decision not to halt production of the tainted products because a board member, designated by New Zealand dairy product giant Fonterra that partly owned Sanlu Group, presented her a document saying a maximum of 20mg of melamine was allowed in every kg of milk in the European Union,” Xinhua said. “She said she had trusted the document at that time.” source NZ Herald
The WSJ also emphasised that Fonterra was sensitive to milk scares because of their “potential impact on the nation’s dairy exports, valued at NZ$11.5 billion annually.”
Those exports account for nearly a third of all New Zealand’s exports.
Last Thursday New Zealand’s government came clean about finding DCD.
“New Zealand’s reputation is based on the high quality of food we produce,” said Carol Barnao, deputy director of general standards at New Zealand’s primary industries ministry, which is responsible for exports and protecting the nation from biological risks. A government study of DCD use is now under way.
Some countries have a “zero tolerance” policy for chemicals in food products, making it a potential trade issue, the Fonterra spokesman said Friday…”
A potential trade issue that New Zealand has likely known about for the past 5 months. Fonterra is not thought to be recalling any of its products. Two days ago its FCO, Jonathan Mason, announced his intention to retire in five months from now. source .
Coincidentally the news broke about DCD/DICY in New Zealand milk within hours of China approving a new dairy export certificate with the U.S.
“The certificate is an assurance from the U.S. government to the Chinese government that the U.S. dairy products were produced in a regulated, safe and sanitary system and from milk from disease-free animals and are free of residues, such as hormones and pesticides.
It’s one of the critical pieces of documentation required to export to China, said Matt McKnight, USDEC senior vice president of market access and regulatory and industry affairs.
The health certificate had to be renegotiated after China underwent several changes to its food safety laws and guidelines, he said.
“There never was a concern with the safety of our product,” as evidenced by China keeping its markets open to U.S. dairy products throughout negotiations, he said…” more here
New Zealand dairying a victim of its own success
Far from being a clean, green 100% pure country New Zealand has significant pollution problems caused by its dairying industry, from nitrate run-off leaching onto land and into freshwater to agricultural chemicals building up in its environment.
Some graziers in New Zealand add extraordinarily high levels of nitrogen to their pastures in order to maximise the protein content of their milk, up to 250 pounds (113kg) per acre per year in some instances. DCD is added to fertiliser to slow down the release of nitrates, effectively making the nitrogen slow burn. Some say that this over-reliance on chemicals is unsustainable and could be symptom of poor pasture management, there are more environmentally beneficial ways of getting nitrogen into the soil – the use of legumes such as clover, for instance.
One of New Zealand’s rivers – The Manawatu – is among the most polluted in the world and many beaches suffer pollution from stormwater and waste water overflows making them unsafe to swim on. Read our Green Credentials or Greenwash wiki page for more information.
More about DCD
DCD is a chemical which slows down the activity of bacteria that converts animal waste into nitrates. It is applied to pastures where dairy herds graze where it has the potential to enter the food chain.
“Dicyandiamide is used in slow and continuous nitrogen release fertilizers, as a fire proofing agent, and in epoxy resins for laminates.
Commonly known as dicyandiamide (DICY), the white crystalline compound is the dimer for cyanamide or for cyanoguanidine. The primary use of the chemical is in the production of melamine, but it is also as a curing agent for epoxy resins.
DICY crystals melt at 45° C, and are soluble in water and alcohol.” source
New Zealand’s two biggest fertiliser companies Ravensdown Ltd and Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd., both famer owned co-operatives, have now suspended sales of DCD.
Permeates in NZ milk
The DCD scare comes months after it was revealed that New Zealand added unlabelled Permeate to its milk, a ‘snot-like byproduct’ used to extend milk and standardise its protein content. It has high lactose and B vitamin content but is low in protein. Its use is not permitted within the EC and the USA.
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“BEIJING, Jan 26, 2013 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Chinese consumers are expressing concerns about the safety of New Zealand’s dairy products since its government officials disclosed on Thursday that a toxic substance has been found.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries claimed that “very low levels” of Dicyandiamide (DCD), which has been found by dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group in a random sampling last September, does not pose a food safety risk to consumers.”
Taiwan wants NZ milk scare answers – The China Post
DCD related items at Scoop.co.nz independent news service, including
Trials show benefits of Nitrification Inhibitors across NZ - Three year trial of DCD ends Scoop.co.nz February 2012
“The trial has reinforced the opportunity that nitrification inhibitors like DCD offer pastoral farming. But it is important to understand how this will work in local areas, and to achieve best practice in their application we recommend farmers should use informed advice by trained representatives, including the use of Overseer to optimise their use.”
All posts tagged 100% Pure myth
We are appalled that people in the Darfield area are still suffering from outbreaks of gastro-enteric diseases (potentially deadly E.coli, and Campylobacter) that would mimic those experienced in third world countries.
The Selwyn District Council needs to “wake up to its responsibility” and address its recurring water issues, a medical officer of health says.
The criticism follows a gastroenteritis outbreak in Darfield that has struck down 128 residents.
By this evening there had been 22 confirmed cases of campylobacter, a bacteria that causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
E. coli was found in the town’s drinking water supply and a boil-water notice was issued on August 17. It was lifted four days later… more here
Some of the contamination is being blamed on intensified farming. Water, especially the Waimakariri river, became grossly contaminated with animal faeces after heavy rainfall. Inadequate chlorination resulted in water that was not safe to drink. Darfield is the third Selwyn community to be issued with a boil-water notice this year. But it’s not just the Selwyn district that is affected by sub-standard drinking water, other regions have the same problems too.
20% of Kiwis drinking unsafe water
A report compiled in June 2010 revealed that one in five people in New Zealand has unsafe, or unregistered drinking water that has not been classified.
The report, which is bound to promote further ‘NZ is third world‘ criticism, was released by the Ministry of Health after a 2008-2009 review of drinking water showed that quality in New Zealand was deteriorating.
Paul Gorman in the Press commented on the report, saying
About 849,000 people, or 20 per cent of Kiwis, were supplied with water that either failed to meet bacteriological standards or had not been classified because sources were unregistered.
That was a rise from 712,000 New Zealanders in the corresponding 2007-08 period.
Unacceptable levels of E. coli were in water supplied to 93,000 people, down from 118,000 the previous year.
However, 247,000 people received water that did not comply bacteriologically with standards because sampling was too infrequent to show compliance.
That was up from 194,000 people in the 2007-08 period…more here
But E.coli monitoring of 125 water supplies, mostly on camping grounds and Marae, had stopped whilst the number of water borne illnesses had doubled over the previous period.
Schools/Early Childhood Centres, Hospitals Have Shocking Results
Shockingly, Only a fifth of schools and early childhood centres have water that is fit to drink – 118 out of the 597 sampled. Some educational establishments had installed UV treatment and filtration to kill bacteria, but higher levels of UV were needed to destroy protozoan parasites and some viruses.
The stats were slightly better for hospitals with around 50% having clean water. Five out of twelve hospitals and health services failed the tests.
- Overall compliance has fallen by 3% in population terms during 2008/9. Approximately 80% of New Zealanders have bacteriologically-compliant drinking-water and protozoal-compliance was achieved in supplies serving 63% of the population.
- Of the 68 large supplies (ie. serving 10,000 or more people), four did not achieve bacteriological compliance and 18 did not achieve protozoal compliance in the survey year.
- Five of the hospital/health services with their own water supplies were bacteriologically non-compliant during 2008/9. Monitoring programmes need to be established for the supplies serving Aotea Health and Great Barrier Community Health. Waiheke Health Trust and Princess Margaret Hospital need to review/implement their corrective action procedures. The cause of the E. coli transgression in the Te Puia Springs Hospital and Village supply needs to be investigated and remedied.
- The improvement in compliance of school supplies has continued, with 20% of schools complying in 2008/9.
- Some water suppliers could avoid the need to undertake monitoring for P2 heavy metals by sampling to show the metals arise from the plumbosolvency of the water, and are not present in the water supplied to the consumer. DWAs can advise on the protocol required.
- Monitoring for E. coli ceased in a further 125 water supplies during the 2008/9 period.
- During 2008/9, the number of LA-run zones in which bacteriological transgressions were not followed up with adequate corrective action remains high at 32. This needs attention.
- Bacteriological compliance was lost in 160 zones, including three LA-run zones, between 2007/8 and 2008/9.
- Zones recorded as compliant but served by one or more treatment plants that did not comply bacteriologically because of excessive E. coli transgressions warrant further investigation.
- Discrepancies between the results of bacteriological monitoring by the water supplier and bacteriological surveillance by the DWA occurred in only six zones during 2008/9.
Thinking of taking your family to live in the area? We say give it a miss until they get this mess sorted out. If you want to assist in third world development there are other places more deserving of your time.
Other posts that may interest you
Residents want Shannon’s “third world” water drinking water cleaned up : “Residents in Shannon, a small settlement between Palmerston North and Wellington, are suffering the effects of a drinking water supply contaminated with giardia, cryptosporidium and possibly E. coli (a potentially fatal organism associated with faecal contamination) and other enteric ‘bug’s and they have had enough. They’ve told Horowhenua District Council that they want action, and they want it now… more
For more about water quality in 100% Pure New Zealand click here.
Tourism New Zealand is poised to ensure that New Zealand cashes in on the forthcoming Hobbit film release.
After the surge in interest generated by the Lord of the Rings films (coming conveniently soon after the September 11 attacks in the US and Helen Clark cashing in by declaring New Zealand a “safe haven”) New Zealand will be sure to want pull as many golden eggs as possible from out of the Hobbit’s only goose.
It has a lot of money staked in the middle earth venture. Millions of dollars of assistance were given to the film studio and New Zealand sold out its employment law to the studio system to ensure that crucial filming remained in New Zealand (read The Hobbit – it was all about the dollars) If you thought this film was about Hobbits Elves and Dwarfs think again, New Zealand has unashamedly ensured it itself is the star and taking centre stage.
“In November 2012, New Zealand’s stunning landscapes will be centre stage for movie lovers world-wide with the première of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’. New Zealand.com
However The Hobbit is a kids story book, are children going to be that impressed by sweeping panoramas and brooding mountain shots even if they are in 3D?
Let’s hope that the adult audience isn’t too taken in by scenery that could be found in most continents on the planet. A few good mountain shots and some green grass doesn’t make New Zealand a good place to emigrate to as the members of the ExpatExposed forum and our Migrants Tales authors will attest. Many migrants find the country backward, cold and intolerant of outsiders.
“New Zealand prides itself on being a friendly, easygoing country, yet for some immigrants and many refugees this green and pleasant land is a toxic environment where they become socially isolated, culturally adrift, wracked by loneliness and homesickness, racially abused and discriminated against by employers...” The Unfriendly Isles - NZ Listener magazine.
Read our Welcome Page to find out how New Zealand’s image has been managed right from the start to attract people.
Migrate if you have no other option but remember there is a big difference between fantasy and reality, a pleasant (but expensive and distant) holiday destination may not be suitable as as long term life choice. For every Mount Doom there is a real life Mount Tongariro waiting to erupt.
In a press release issued on Thursday 9 August Tourism NZ said
With just three months to go until the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Wellington, Tourism New Zealand has been working to ensure New Zealand benefits from the increase in international attention.
A creative theme for all activity, Fantasy is Reality has been confirmed to ensure there is a strong connection between the films and New Zealand. Key international media and opinion leader targets have been identified. Advertising schedules are locked in. Broadcast footage, captured.
“One of our most exciting milestones will be reached in late August when the new 100% Pure New Zealand campaign will get its first public airing, drawing together the themes ’100% Pure’ and ’100% Middle Earth‘” says Chief Executive Kevin Bowler.“Our new advertisement will be placed on TV, cinema and on-line, and new pages and imagery will go live on newzealand.com.
“This will be the first screening of the latest evolution of the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign and we are pretty excited about it,” he says.
Tourism New Zealand is already well underway with its activity to convert the international attention New Zealand will draw from the movies, into travel.
Kevin says, “International media attention surrounding the films has been growing over the past few months and we have already hosted a number of journalists who are writing specifically about New Zealand as the location for the films.
“We have Hobbit-specific pages on our corporate website, and images on our image library, providing a hub for all the news and information people may need.
“Consumers visiting newzealand.com will already find a “Home of Middle-earth” section offering a range of experiences and products that are based around the filming of The Lord of the Rings.
“We were also thrilled to be a part of the Weta booth at Comic Con in the middle of July, working alongside Air New Zealand, Hobbiton and Film New Zealand to promote New Zealand, to those who attended the exhibition.”
Comic Con is now regarded as the largest comic book and popular arts convention in the world with around 130,000 people attending.
“As we work to leverage The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back again, we will connect the landscapes of Middle-earth with the experiences of New Zealand.
“Through our marketing activity we will show how easy it is to come here, see Middle-earth first-hand, and enjoy all the exciting and fun experiences New Zealand has to offer,” he says.”
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New Zealand’s economically valuable “100% Pure” brand has been questioned in international media due to the pollution of our rivers and lakes, the Green Party said today.
“We must get real about cleaning up our rivers and lakes, because the world is beginning to realise that we aren’t living up to our clean green image,” said Dr Norman.
Dr Norman was responding to John Key’s interview yesterday on BBC News HARDtalk. During the interview (see video above) host Stephen Sackur commented that New Zealand is clearly not 100% Pure and cited that half of New Zealand lakes and 90% of our lowland rivers are classed as polluted… read on
For more about the 100% Pure myth click here
“The Maritime Union says that the responsibility for the Rena disaster lies with Government and authorities as much as with individual crew members.
Maritime Union of New Zealand General Secretary Joe Fleetwood says the arrest today of the master of the Rena on serious charges should not deflect attention away from the greater responsibility for the disaster.
He says New Zealand Government and authorities have created a situation where substandard flag of convenience shipping has been encouraged and enabled.
“1990s legislation from the then National Government created the so-called ‘open coast’ policy and this has meant that unacceptable practices have become the norm in New Zealand waters – it’s a case of out of sight and out of mind.”
Mr Fleetwood says a Maritime New Zealand “inspection” of the Rena in Bluff on 28 September 2011 apparently consisted of the inspector asking the Master whether previous problems had been fixed.
“This is the same Master that the authorities are now trying to pin the blame on a couple of weeks later after the disaster.”
“But at the time of the inspection they obviously were prepared to take the Master at his word that everything was hunky dory on his ship, despite the fact it had been hauled up in China and Australia for multiple problems.”
Mr Fleetwood says if this is the standard approach of Maritime New Zealand to dealing with obviously problematic vessels, the only surprise in the grounding of the Rena is that it hadn’t happened earlier.
He says the Union is very concerned about the welfare of crew members and wanted access to them to provide independent support.
“Can you imagine the stress of these seafarers, many with dependent families, who have spent nearly a week onboard a stricken vessel in mortal fear of their lives, and some only being taken off by helicopter after a Mayday call when the ship appeared to be in imminent catastrophe.”
He says it is now becoming a regular theme that systemic policy and regulation failures are resulting in serious harm to workers, the community and the environment.
“It is about time that the elected leaders started copping it when things go wrong rather than putting a smother over it and trying to shift the blame.”
He says the Union was repeating its call for all Maritime New Zealand reports on the Rena to be made public as soon as possible.
“If the authorities have managed to arrest the captain in such a fast manner, they can start to make public their own processes for full transparency and accountability to the New Zealand public.”
Mr Fleetwood says the Union has been arguing for stronger regulation of shipping for years in New Zealand waters, but Government’s have not wanted to hear the message.
He says the Union has had longstanding concerns that Maritime New Zealand regulations and inspections of flag of convenience vessels were superficial, limited and not strict enough.
The Union has compiled a short list of some of the flag of convenience shipping issues that it has been involved in over the last few years (see end of media release).
Mr Fleetwood says comment by Transport Minister Steven Joyce that the Maritime Union’s views were “political” were accurate.
“Mr Joyce is right. The issue is political. It is political because the John Key led National Government have been happy to have flag of convenience ships running on the New Zealand coast as a result of their political decisions.”
“In this case their political decision to promote and allow flag of convenience shipping on the New Zealand coast has had real life consequences, which have proved far beyond the political ability and the practical ability of the Government to deal with.”
“If we allowed trucks on New Zealand roads that were licensed in Liberia or some other semi-functioning failed state, and driven by unregulated overseas drivers, there would be an outcry. Yet that is what we allow on the New Zealand coast and now we are paying the price.”
Mr Fleetwood says in addition to its campaigning against Flag of Convenience shipping it had lobbied the Government last year with a plan to provide a fast response vessel for offshore oil spills.
The Union approached the Minister of Energy and Resources, Hon Gerry Brownlee, as well as the Minister of Transport Hon Steven Joyce and Minister of Environment Hon Nick Smith, in July 2010 to support the introduction of a ready response vessel for the maritime sector to cope with oil spills and similar events.
This ready response vessel would have been aimed at the offshore oil and gas industry but could easily have been used to quickly respond to oil leaks in the current Rena disaster.
The Union was told to send their information into a Ministry of Economic Development review, which it did.”
Days after the grounding of the Liberian flagged MV Rena in the early hours of 5 October, Prime Minister Key has finally found time in his busy World Cup schedule to visit Tauranga and see the extent of the damage caused by the oil leaking from the vessel. Already 100 tonnes of oil from the ship are thought to be unaccounted for. (watch projected oil spill video here)
The handling of the impending environmental disaster has been anything but 100% efficient and it has raised grave concerns about the government’s ability to deal with a future oil spillage off the NZ coast, something that strikes fear into the heart of the many businesses that rely on the sea for their livelihoods, environmental groups and local residents.
With oil exploration off the coast of New Zealand getting gathering pace and an Australian company’s well drilled in the Marlborough Sounds it raises fresh doubts about the country’s ability to deal with a major oil spillage, such as that of the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico last year.
Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras International Braspetro B.V was recently given a 5 year permit to drill for oil on 12,333 square kilometres off the North Island’s East Cape. Water depths range from shallow to 3000m at its northern reaches. By comparison BP’s leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico is in water 1500m deep.
Blogger, The Jackalman, has uncovered some disturbing information when he became concerned about the lack of disclosure about who owns the MV Rena and found alleged ties to the Israeli military. He also was concerned at National ‘s slow response and wondered why they’d been slow to react.
In addition to mentions of plutonium cores and parts for military helicopters he writes that there was evidence of a lack of maintenance of the vessel and NZ authorities not being allowed on board to breath-test Filipino crew members.
Worryingly he lists Ferrosilicon, (above, used by the military to produce highly flammable hydrogen) among the hazardous substances carried in the cargo (there are 4 containers of it aboard) and the effects if it comes into contact with water. He also questions whether Yellow Cake, mined in Australia may be among the cargo and why National has not released the ship’s inventory.
The Jackalman writes:
In August this year, Australia detained the MV Rena because of cracked and rusted parts. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority after “serious deficiencies” were found detained the vessel for a day in Fremantle, Western Australia. The authority’s report found the vessel had “not been maintained between surveys”, the “hatchway cover securing arrangements are defective” and cargo was not stowed and secured as stipulated in the cargo-securing manual.
Despite the Rena being beached in New Zealand’s territorial waters, authorities were not allowed to board the vessel to breath test the crew to ensure drunkenness was not a reason for the accident.
The hazardous substance that authorities have confirmed is being transported by the Rena is Ferrosilicon, which is used by the military to quickly produce hydrogen. The chemical reaction uses sodium hydroxide, ferrosilicon, and water. The materials are stable and not combustible, and they do not generate large amounts of hydrogen until mixed. Ferrosilicon will slowly release hydrogen when in contact with water.
As early as Friday 7 October politician Winston Peters was already voicing strong concern about the perceived inertia of the response. With heavy seas predicted there is an ever increasing risk that the vessel will break-up releasing a potentially hazardous cargo into the sea :
More than 72 hours after the grounding of the M V Rena, with over 1500 tons of oil on board, at the Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga the lack of urgency and inertia demonstrated by the Government is to be deplored’, says Winston Peters, Leader of NZ First.
‘Sitting around waiting for some overseas expert to arrive is surely not the answer. Shippers have for years being paying a fee to cover such an event. Now that it is here the public should be demanding to know, where is Prime Minister Key, Transport Minister Joyce or Environmental Minister Smith. This is not a disaster waiting to happen. It has happened and failure to have already acted with the speed this event requires could have dire prospects for the Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and East Coast.’
‘Any dramatic worsening of sea conditions could spell further or total loss of the oil at sea and a breakup of the ship. The real issue is why hasn’t our training and preparation for such an event been met with a sense serious danger and appropriate response? Running around talking about good news and grabbing photo opportunities should be suspended and this issue dealt with now.
‘The oil should be taken off the boat now as should any dangerous cargo. That is not what is happening.’
‘Moreover the dispersal agent being used is likely to be as dangerous as the oil itself because its characteristics are to take the oil to the sea floor where it’s danger to the marine ecology will have tragic effects.
‘The economy of the Bay of Plenty is already under threat from Psa in the Kiwi Fruit industry. The danger is imminent from this shipping disaster and it calls for action and leadership. Where is it?’ said Mr Peters.
Experts warning “environmental disaster” looming, lack of readiness.
Environmental Defence Society (EDS) chairman, Gary Taylor, said on 7 October maritime authorities were moving too slowly to contain the oil spill. He also said that experimental spraying of dispersal chemicals wasn’t working and that there was a lack of readiness on the part of authorities to deal with an oil spill off the coast of New Zealand.
The Environmental Defence Society has called on Maritime New Zealand to act faster to contain oil spilling from the container ship Rena off Tauranga Harbour.
“We are very concerned to see this incident inexorably moving into a full-scale environmental disaster,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.
“The area is one that has high natural values with many seabirds, marine mammals and fish at risk from contamination. Nearby beaches and communities are at risk.
“It is now three days since the container ship became stranded on the Astrolabe Reef and there is still no containment boom around the ship to prevent oil dispersing into the wider marine environment. The sea is calm at present and we see no reason why containment should not already be in place. We understand suitable equipment is available.
“We are not convinced by what we have seen so far that Maritime New Zealand has the situation under control.
“This impression is reinforced by the way they are experimenting with helicopter spraying of dispersal chemicals only to find they are not working. This is redolent of the Gulf of Mexico distaster where authorities were found wanting of tried and proven response techniques.
“We would have thought that there would be a rapid, effective and proven response to this kind of incident and instead are seeing unexplained delays and trialling of different methods of control. This indicates a general lack of readiness on the part of the relevant authorities to deal with an oil spill off the New Zealand coast.”
“We agree with the Green Party that this is not a good look when we consider the imminent prospect of oil exploration off the same east coast of the North Island. If this is an indication of our readiness then there is a lot of work to be done. How the ship got onto to the reef and accountability for that is one thing. The response from Maritime New Zealand and its performance in responding to the situation is another.”
“We are looking for rapid deployment of containment booms, removal of the oil from the ship and over a longer time-frame removal of containers that pose a threat to the environment,” Mr Taylor concluded. source
Today the EDS issued another press release questioning Maritime New Zealand’s readiness to deal with such incidents and that the situation was worsening with each passing day
Environmental Defence Society questions Maritime NZ tardiness
The Environmental Defence Society , which earlier this week called for a faster response to the Rena incident, is now questioning the readiness of Maritime New Zealand to deal with such incidents.
“There is no doubt now that this is a very serious situation, made worse by the passing of every day,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.
“So we need to ask why Maritime New Zealand has been so slow out of the blocks when it should have contingency plans in place that are ready to go the moment an incident occurs.
“No attempts have been made to contain the oil with booms, there seems to be an experiment with dispersal agents, all the equipment required is not available in New Zealand and is being brought from overseas, expertise also seems not available here and is being brought in and no containers have yet been removed.
“And all this with worsening weather imminent. Winds are shifting on-shore and strengthening with heavier swells likely to increase the probability of stressing a vulnerable hull and the ship breaking up.
“It is extremely disconcerting to see how delays at every turn are increasing the risks. We would have thought that clear plans would be in place to deal with all conceivable incidents and that their deployment would be rapid and certain. “Whilst the focus at the moment must be on containing the scale of this unfolding disaster, an inquiry into the way it has been handled is inevitable.
“As New Zealand moves more aggressively into offshore oil exploration, New Zealanders will want to know that is something goes wrong we are ready to deal with it competently and swiftly. We also have large numbers of oil tankers, with much more oil on board than a coastal container ship, plying our waters on a regular basis. They have the potential for a much greater disaster.
“This should be a real wake-up call for all of us and we should learn as much as we can from it so as to better manage any future spills. “New Zealand has more than 14,000km of coastline and some of the most important and biodiverse oceans in the world. We need world-class environmental standards and international best practice in oil spill management available at a moments notice.
“ What we are seeing is not good enough,” Mr Taylor concluded.
With cracks are already appearing in the ships hull the continuing dangers of the MV Rena will be as nothing compared to the major ecological disaster caused by a leaking oil well off the NZ coast.
If the government can’t sort out a single cargo ship what hope does it stand of coping with the cracks in its disaster management response when a major oil pollution incident presents itself.
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and our Green Credentials, Or Green Wash information page