A cargo ship, the Liberian- flagged Rena ran aground on October 5, about 14 miles offshore causing a massive environmental spill. Oil has already begun washing up on the beaches of Tauranga.
Rescue efforts have been hampered by the rough weather. So far, less than 85 tons of oil have been removed from the cargo ship, which is listing dangerously. An estimated 1400 tons of oil still remains on board. Closer to 350 tons of oil have been leaked into the water. The chances of the vessel breaking apart and dislodging itself from the reef are high.
New Zealand authorities have taken action against the crew members of the vessel. Both the captain and an officer have been charged under the maritime laws of New Zealand. They currently face charges of operating a vessel in a dangerous manner. If convicted, they face up to a year in jail. New Zealand authorities are also investigating why the vessel crashed into a well-charted reef in perfectly calm weather and total visibility.