Science, Tech & Environment

Critical moments for sinking freighter off New Zealand

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A helicopter tries to assist with the off-loading of a sinking cargo ship near New Zealand's Bay of Plenty. (Image from ABCau video)

Rough weather off New Zealand is hampering efforts to unload fuel oil and potentially hazardous cargo from a badly damaged freighter.

Right now, pumping efforts are suspended, as is off-loading in the waters of the Bay of Plenty.

"It hangs in the balance, as far as what happens over the next 24 hour period," said New Zealand transportation secretary Steve Joyce.

About 90 tons of fuel have been removed, but 1200 tons remain. It'll take at least two weeks to get that fuel off, at the current rate. All that oil, which continues to spill out of the ship, has left animals 

More than 230 birds have been rescued from the oil so far and are being cleaned up.

More then $3 million dollars have been spent on the clean-up already, with much work still ahead.

"We don't know what the final cost will be," said New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. "It'll depend quite a bit on how successful we are at getting oil off the ship."

 

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