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New Zealand downgrades Rena response

May 4, 2012 at 7:19 AM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, May 4 (UPI) -- New Zealand authorities announced Friday they've downgraded the emergency response to the oil spill from tanker Rena, six months after its grounding.

Rena struck a reef off the coast of New Zealand in October. It broke apart earlier this year and salvage teams are working to get remaining shipping containers off the vessel.

The ship spilled around 2,000 barrels of oil into the Bay of Plenty when it hit the reef. Maritime New Zealand, the agency responding to the disaster, had removed most of the oil from the ship by December.

Rob Service, national on-scene commander, announced Friday officials downgraded the response from a national- to a regional-level response. MNZ said assessments of the wreck confirmed the threat of an additional oil spill from Rena was minimal and the threat to the environment was low.

"This is not the end -- the response has simply been reduced from a national level to a regional level," he said in a statement.

The owner of the vessel, Daina Shipping Co., which has headquarters in Greece, faces an $8,100 fine for every day harmful substances were discharged. Crew members were also accused of various charges and sentencing is set for late May.

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