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Published 10/12/2011


Oil spills are another example of the terrible hidden costs we don’t pay at the pump. History has clearly demonstrated that extracting and transporting oil leads to environmental disaster… eventually. It’s a hard cost we pay through increased taxes, degradation to our environment, destruction of wildlife and personal health.

The people of Tauranga, New Zealand are devastated. Recently a cargo ship struck a reef off the coast and began leaking oil. The Captain was arrested and could face one year in prison as well as a fine up to 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($7,800) if he is convicted, and “more charges are likely to follow.”

The government has demanded an explanation on how the vessel could crash “into the well-charted reef in calm weather.” But the owners of the ship, Greece-based Costamare Inc, have yet to provide an answer. However, they have made an official statement claiming that they are "cooperating fully with local authorities" and are attempting to do all they can to "control and minimize the environmental consequences of this incident."

Meanwhile, the ecological impact worsens. Maritime New Zealand spokesman, Steve Jones, explained to reporters that “The brutal conditions were making it impossible for a salvage crew to board the 775-foot (236-meter) ship, he said. Without the salvage crew aboard, oil cannot be pumped out of the ship.”

It seems that the biggest impact of this calamity shall be felt by, as always, the environment and wildlife:

Hundreds of tons of heavy fuel oil have spilled from the hull, leading New Zealand's environment minister, Nick Smith, to call it the country's biggest maritime environmental disaster. Clumps of the oil have washed up on pristine beaches near Tauranga, and environmental officials said 53 birds were found dead and 17 were getting emergency treatment to remove oil from their feathers.

Perhaps, it’s time for the world to reduce its dependence on oil and help quell the unnecessary environmental impact that oil spills like this one create.

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