On October 5, 2011, the MV Rena ran aground off the Astrolabe Reef in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty. The 47,000 tonne container ship was carrying 1,700 tonnes of oil, of which 350 tonnes leaked out in the first week. The Liberian container vessel has now caused a slick that has spread over 5km. Authorities have deemed this incident the worst environmental disaster in New Zealand’s history as the vessel continues to break apart, spilling heavy fuel oil and containers into the sea causing massive pollution to the marine environment. Oil clean-up efforts are ongoing as salvors and volunteers work to contain the effects of the spill.
The grounding of the MV Rena has raised awareness to the possible threats to maritime safety and security posed by unsafe shipping. The incident has already devastated the community of one of New Zealand’s leading seaside resorts and the economic impact will run into the millions of dollars to clean up the coastlines.