The 47,230 tonne Costamare-owned MV Rena lists in heavy swells, about 12 nautical miles (22 km) from Tauranga, on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, 12 October 2011, a week after hitting the Astrolabe Reef. Reuters

By Anne Witter
2 November 2011

MV Rena remains intact despite water swelling in the Bay of Plenty where it is still wedged in on Astrolabe Reef as bad weather persisted in the area, bringing swells of up to 5m.
Officials have feared that the recent bout of bad weather could finally break Rena in half, and they have expected the worst Tuesday night.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce told New Zealand Herald the odds of the ship breaking in two over bad weather as "greater than 50/50."

NZ Herald also reported no additional containers had fallen overboard, and while there was a fresh incident of oil spill, Maritime NZ said the amount was not alarming.

High winds and water swells are still keeping the ship at the risk of falling apart.

Meanwhile Environment Minister Dr. Nick Smith implied Tuesday night that NZ authorities could have done something soon after the cargo vessel struck the reef.

"At 2.20am (on Oct. 5), when the Rena hit that reef, in my view, an oil spill was inevitable given the extent to which the underside of the vessel was so badly damaged," Dr. Smith told an environment debate in Auckland last night, Radio New Zealand reported.

However, Dr. Smith dismissed the opposition parties' criticism of the authorities' response as "ill-informed and unfair on people that are trying to deal with an emergency situation."

The Labour and the Greens, with Green Party Labour co-leader Russell Norman have questioned why clean up equipment was not brought in sooner if an oil spill was expected.

As this developed, government prosecutors on Wednesday morning laid fresh charges against the captain and navigational officer of MV Rena.  Costamare Shipping, Rena's owners, could also find themselves prosecuted, Dr. Smith told NZ Herald on Wednesday.

The new charges under the Resource Management Act laid against the pair carry financial penalties of up to $300,000 for an individual and up to $600,000 for a company.

"The Government is of a view we need to throw the full force of the law at those responsible, not only for the deaths of over 1400 birds but also pollution to tens of kilometres of beaches … In fact, it would be remiss given that it is New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster if there was not a prosecution under the RMA," Dr. Smith said.

MV Rena Update: Cargo Vessel Remains Intact in Bad Weather; Fresh Charges Filed Vs Filipino Captain



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