Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) pollution response service manager Andrew Berry told Radio New Zealand he was "very worried'' about the threat to the environment posed by the slick. "It has the potential to be very, very serious indeed, simply because of the age of the ship, the damage that she's sustained and the 1700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil on board.''
"We stand on the brink of disaster if the salvage goes wrong," said Shane Wasik, NZ Underwater Association president and a local diver.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the priority now was to remove the oil from the ship as quickly as possible. "The difficulty is that the situation is deteriorating and according to the advice I've received, there's the possibility it could break up and sink - it's certainly serious what's going on there," he told the Herald last night. "(Emergency response teams) are certainly moving as fast as they can - it's been a bit frustrating for everybody in terms of getting the right equipment to achieve the removal of the oil and containers."
This is a test case for the response teams and if this turns into more of an environmental danger it will be clear that we have little defence against these events - and they want more drilling for oil and more potential disasters. Sadly we will have to get expert at cleaning up oil spills and we will have to learn how to decontaminate birds and dispose of dead fish and animals, and we will have to learn how to clean oil out of sand and wetlands and of course, the open water. Yes, unless we stop their exploitation we will have to learn many new skills.