Business, Finance & Economics

New Zealand oil spill may reach beaches


An oil slick is seen coming from the grounded vessel Rena, on October 9, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand.


Ross Brown

Bad weather is threatening to spread an oil spill in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty, with Prime Minister John Key saying "serious questions" over the incident must be answered.

The Australian Associated Press said the weather could slow emergency plans to pump 2,000 tonnes of oil off the ship.

Heavy rain and winds are forecast to hit the area, one of the country's top tourist destinations, on Monday.

Oil leaking from the MV Rena has created a three-mile slick, after it ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef, off Tauranga, on Wednesday.

Officials say 20-30 tonnes of oil have already spilled into the bay.

Maritime New Zealand commander Rob Service told the media the bad weather would likely spread the reach of the spill, which would hit beaches south of Mt Maunganui and Papamoa by mid next week.

The BBC reports that if the ship breaks up, the fuel aboard the vessel will be released into an area that is home to a variety of sea life, including whales, dolphins, seals and penguins.