In an accident that occurred on Wednesday, October 5, a Liberian oil tanker traveling in calm waters collided with reefs in the Bay of Plenty offshore New Zealand’s North Island.
Although the crew was uninjured, the ship's hull was breached, with an initial 20 tons of oil that leaked into the water. Storms arriving since then have caused more of the toxic substance to be released, with an estimated 350 tons that had been discharged into the bay by Tuesday.
As New Zealand Environment Minister Nick Smith ranked the event as the country's most significant environmental disaster ever, gusting winds from the storm shut down both containment and rescue operations, with signs of oil fouling reaching once-pristine beaches in locales like Tauranga.
Meanwhile, crews have been working to remove the oil totaling 1,700 tons from the tanker, along with some other hazardous materials.
A public health warning has been issued, advising avoidance of contaminated beaches, where touching the oil or inhaling its fumes can cause irritation and other damage, while consuming seafood from the affected areas was also highly discouraged. Another distressing result of the disaster is its effect on wildlife, with a number of birds already perished as personnel work to rescue oil-covered seabirds, penguins, and seals.
Greenpeace representatives also stated that whales and dolphins calving in the area could be affected as well.
Our gratitude, concerned officials and all who are dedicating your time and efforts to alleviate these distressing conditions.
May we strive to act in harmony with nature for the protection of the Earth and all her cherished inhabitants.
During an August 2009 videoconference in Thailand, Supreme Master Ching Hai urged for humanity's greater consideration for the wildlife and the planet.
Sources: CNTV, France24, CNTV, Global Animal