New charges filed in N.Z. oil spill

Nov. 1, 2011 at 8:11 PM

TAURANGA, New Zealand, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- New charges were brought against the captain and navigational officer of a wrecked ship that spilled oil along the coast of New Zealand, officials said Tuesday.

The Rena's skipper and second officer -- whose names have not been released -- were charged under the Resource Management Act for the discharge of harmful substances from the ship, which crashed into a reef Oct. 11 near Tauranga. The damaged ship spilled about 350 tons of oil into the ocean.

The two had already been charged with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk, The New Zealand Herald reported.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the owners of the ship, Costamare Shipping, could also face charges.

"The government is of a view we need to throw the full force of the law at those responsible, not only for the deaths of over 1,400 birds but also pollution to tens of kilometers of beaches," Smith said.

Meanwhile, officials feared the Rena would break apart further as rough weather hit the area over night, but a flyover confirmed no more containers fell overboard. The ship still carries about 350 tons of oil.

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