oil spill

Pumping capacity doubled

From The NZ Herald:

A new fuel transfer system on board the stranded cargo ship Rena has doubled pumping capacity as good weather continues to help oil recovery efforts.

Salvors stopped pumping for a few hours yesterday afternoon while they installed a new pump and hose to remove fuel oil from the port number 5 tank.

The new system was now up and running and a team of three salvors remained on board the Rena to oversee pumping operations overnight.

So the salvors have been pumping oil now for 5 straight days, making a mockery of all the political points scoring from the Greens and Labour that for the first four days they could have got all the oil off. If that was the case then the ship would have been clear by now.

I doubt we will get an apology though, they did the political damage they sought to cause.

Endangered? Really?

I am pretty supportive of the efforts of Ingrid Visser but I read this morning’s Herald piece about Orca around the MV Rena shipwreck and thought that it wasn’t right. After looking more into the claims made I am left disappointed.

She said fewer than 200 orca lived around the New Zealand coastline, and they had the highest endangered threat rating available for animals.

There was nothing to stop the mammals going through the restricted area, and the oil should have been cleaned up sooner, she said.

That statement simply isn’t true. From Ingrid Visser’s own Ph.d Thesis she says:

The conservation status of orca worldwide is poorly known, although two populations of the Pacific North West Coast of North America have recently been classified as ‘Threatened’ and ‘Vulnerable’.

So only two populations in the World are classified, and even then they are only listed as “ThreatenedVulnerable” which isn’t as she says the highest endangered rating available for animals. The highest rating is Critically Endangered which is several notches above where two populations int he world are listed and way above the overall listing for Orca. In fact Orca aren’t even listed in the IUCN Red List of Vulnerable species, which is the definitive list of for those species with the highest rating for animals.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really admire the work of Ingrid Visser but why would she allow her credibility to be maligned in this manner. There is no possible way for her statement to hold true, both from the evidence of her own Ph.d Thesis and also from the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

So what is the world population of Orca?

Worldwide population estimates are uncertain, but recent consensus suggest an absolute minimum of 50,000. Local estimates include roughly 25,000 in the Antarctic, 8,500 in the tropical Pacific, 2,250–2,700 off the cooler northeast Pacific and 500–1,500 off Norway.

Sure there are some local populations that are endangered but that is not what Ingrid Visser said. You would think if they were as endangered as Ingrid Visser has said then the Department of Conservation would say so, only they don’t.

The killer whale (Orcinus orca) is the most widely distributed mammal on earth with the exception of humans. Its distribution is patchy however and it is more commonly seen at the poles and in cooler waters. It also prefers deeper water but can be found in shallow bays and estuaries, and in inland seas.

The facts, including Visser’s own work, don;t support the statement. That really means that the whole article is just shameful sensationalism of the oil spill for their own ends.

Sure it is awful that there is oil in the sea, and awful that Orca are swimming through the area that previously had oil in it, but it is actually sensationalism to link the oil spill to their endangered status, which as I have shown is far from endangered.

These guys are tough

Contrary to the claims of Labour and the Greens there have been salvors about the MV Rena since very early on. Today in the Herald we get to hear just how precarious and dangerous their jobs are:

Far down in the engine-room, below five flights of bent ladders, the floor slopes sideways and is covered with oily muck.

It is pitch black except for the odd generator-powered light, just a faint glow amid the gloom.

The smell – a putrid mix of salty air, heavy fuel fumes and thawed, rotting food spilled from busted containers – is almost overpowering.

And the noise is terrifying.

The sounds of howling wind and crashing waves combine with a cacophony of creaks, bangs and groans of steel grinding on steel.

These of the death throes of the MV Rena, one of the most perilous wrecks that a world-renowned team of salvage experts have seen in their careers.

The severed hull grinds against itself as waves wash back and forth through slowly widening gashes in steel 18mm thick.

Pancaked rows of containers – many 12m long – tower high above, always threatening to crash down.

The salvors must keep their balance on a sideways, ever-swaying deck soaked in slippery oil and water.

Every few moments, another swell slams the hull, rocking it again.

Weighing heavily upon the salvors’ shoulders is the hope they will be able to pump away all of the oil still in the Rena’s tanks before the ship breaks up.

But first they must empty one port-side tank – and then try to get to the 356 tonnes in the tank on the other side.

With a five-day window of fine weather and a booster pump that managed to clear 171 tonnes by yesterday afternoon, there is optimism, but the job is dangerous.

“Everywhere, there’s risk at the moment,” said Svitzer Salvage master captain Drew Shannon, speaking exclusively to the Weekend Herald.

When finger pointing backfires

One of the problems with finger pointing is that there are three fingers pointing right back at you, your own.

The Greens especially but also Labour, in particular Trevor Mallard have been pointing fingers trying to lay the blame for the MV Rena on the door step of the government. They have been very vocal about the oil spill, pretending to be experts at marine salvage and in the case of Phil Goff pretending to know how to use a shovel.

Eventually the facts come out though. So, I wonder how they are going to spin this little piece of news.

A decade ago, the Oil Pollution Fund contained about $12 million but now totals only $4m after a decision was made by then transport minister Mark Gosche to draw the account down. The purpose of the fund is to have sufficient cash rapidly available in case of an oil spill and all ships over 24m long or weighing more than 100 tonnes must contribute. What they pay is decided by the gross tonnage of the ship and not their “threat” level – an issue currently subject to review.

Labour has gone on about how shameful it is that the taxpayers will be paying for the spill. I wonder what their alternative is, not clean it up and say we shouldn’t have to pay. Or do what the government is doing, cleaning it up and then using the full forces and resources of the state to pursue and hold to account those responsible.

Meanwhile if Labour could explain the decision they made to draw the account down.

STFU Gareth Hughes

Gareth Hughes is now actually wasting resources instead of helping with his incessant tweeting regarding MV Rena. Earlier today he tweeted:

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It immediately caused a flurry from members of the media  but was in fact a complete fabrication which subsequently got re-tweeted by a whole bunch of people including some who should know better.

Maritime NZ has then had to divert resources in order to issue a press release advising the hoax nature of Gareth Hughes tweet:

Reports by some media that the Rena is breaking up are incorrect. Salvage experts advise that while the Rena is cracked port and starboard, it remains together in one piece and is in the same position as it has been for the past week.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Andrew Berry (who today replaces Bruce Anderson as part of a shift rotation) says oil pumping operations are progressing. A booster pump is now in place, which is hoped to begin operation soon.

“All going well, this will increase our pumping capacity, and we will be continuing to pump oil for as long as we possibly can today. However, the operation is still very much dependent upon a number of factors, such as weather, equipment, vessel stability and other considerations, which will have an impact upon how well this process goes.

“The key point is that every drop of oil that we can get off the ship is one less drop that can potentially end up in the environment, but it will be a long, slow and steady process.”

When is a moratorium not a moratorium?

When Phil Goff says it is…or isn’t.

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Phil Goff flips, flops and flaps all around the issue.

And here is the video of the interview. Good grief Phil Goff is such a hapless, goober.


Why does Phil Goff lie?

Phil Goff has been caught telling lies so many times you now know that when he opens his mouth what ever he says will be a mis-truth.

Yesterday was no different as his shameless politicking over the MV Rena and silly photo opportunities and disaster tourism became the news.

When asked about why he went down tot he beach in contravention of official advice his reply was that he was asked to by people on the beach.

Goff lies to Newstalkzb by whaleoil

This was in stark contrast to an eyewitness account of what actually went on. Plus there is the photo of Goff in his shiny suit and equally shiny shoes. Not the attire of someone going to assist as he says.

I really do wonder why politicians in general and Phil Goff in particular always seem to default to a lie when the truth would do?

When Phil Goff was confronted with his lies over the SIS briefing he said he didn’t have but actually did have he chose to dig the hole even deeper. What he should have done then is simply say he forgot and it would have killed the story. He didn’t and history now shows that he was briefed, that he used a tragedy to politicise the event and it backfired.

Likewise with the Rena photo opportunity. He should ahve simply said “Of course it was a photo shoot, that’s what politicians do”. The story would ahve died but now he is on record as saying that people asked him to help and so he did. We know that this wasn’t the case and so now the story becomes Goff’s lies.

Silly, silly man.


Disaster Tourist, Ctd

Phil Goff likes to have pictures taken of him with shovels.

This is the one from this morning which we now know was staged:

And then this one from Christchurch which is presumably staged as well:

And then this one from Christchurch as well where he is standing next to a shovel which is in the hands of an expert:

Disaster Tourist

Yesterday Phil Goff went to Tauranga to share his world class expertise with sinking ships.

Trevor Mallard went large on the issue last night posting screenshots of Phil Goff’s Facebook page and John Key’s Facebook page with the clear inference that Phil Goff cares and John Key doesn’t.

Then we had this photo appearing on Stuff of the caring Phil Goff in his shiny shoes and suit using a shovel.

A caller to Leighton Smith’s show this morning though puts this all into perspective:

Goff caught staging a photo op by whaleoil

Goff was ditched by the Otago Chamber of Commerce because they couldn’t sell any tickets and so he legs it to Tauranga to stage a photo-op.

Phil Goff the disaster tourist milking tragedy and playing politics.


Some perspective on RENA

There has been all manner of scare mongering about the oil spill of the MV RENA. It must be remembered though that this is a container ship not an oil tanker and so the amount of oil spilled is actually tiny compared could what could have been. While still bad it is nowhere near the catastrophe that politicians who should know better are desperately trying to make it out to be.

Maui Street posted an Infographic that tries to show the scale of the problem of RENA. Unfortunately it doesn’t. I have added on some perspective. The Greens and Labour can’t complain about that perspective because they decided to conflate MV RENA with deep-water drilling and so it bears some comparison.

For ease of use I have used the typical size of current NZ coastal tankers for measurement and the the recent Deepwater Horizon event in the US that Gareth Hughes is so exercised about.

Deepwater Horizon spilled the equivalent of 21 tankers of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, in contrast the oil spill of MV RENA will only be 5% of just one tanker.