ENVIRONMENT

Key not fooling anyone on oil risks

Tuesday 11 October 2011, 8:57AM
By Greenpeace New Zealand
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The Prime Minister’s statement that the Rena oil spill has nothing to do with the threat from deep sea oil exploration is foolish, says Greenpeace New Zealand.

Speaking on TVNZ’s Breakfast programme this morning, Prime Minister John Key denied that the latest spill highlighted how ill-prepared New Zealand is for a major oil spill from the Government’s planned deep sea oil programme. Key said it was a “completely different … and not correlated issue.”

Greenpeace NZ Climate Campaigner Steve Abel says that: “John Key is not fooling anyone when he says that this oil spill in the Bay of Plenty is unrelated to the inherent risks of deep sea oil drilling in New Zealand waters.”

“The only difference is scale – John Key admits that this spill, at less than 100 tonnes so far, is a catastrophe, and yet it is minuscule compared to an underwater blow-out of a deep water rig, such as that in the Gulf of Mexico, which leaked millions of barrels of oil.”

A major leak off the East Cape or the South Island from a deep water oil rig, could see oil inundating the Bay of Plenty, or Stewart Island.

The setting-up of a deep water oil industry here will also see dozens of oil tankers frequenting our waters, exacerbating the inherent risks of maritime accidents and tanker spills.

Abel continues: “The fact is that a major oil spill can never really be cleaned up. Prevention is the best strategy. People have every right to be outraged at the consequences of this spill. It highlights exactly what is at stake with the Government’s plans for high-risk deep sea oil drilling in our coastal waters.”

Anadarko, which had a 25 per cent share in the Deepwater Horizon well, intends to start drilling exploratory wells off the South Island next year.

Greenpeace is also very concerned about the continued used of the dispersant Corexit 9500, due to the likelihood of its increasing the toxic load on the marine environment.

“Corexit is often referred to within the oil industry as ‘Hidez-it’ – it doesn’t remove the oil, but instead just hides it from sight, and it only adds to the toxicity of an oil spill,” says Abel.