The German Aerospace Centre’s (DLR) TerraSAR satellite has captured the likely extent of the oil spill that occurred off of the northern coast of New Zealand, when the container ship Rena struck the Astrolabe Reef in early October.
The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors on board the satellite were able to distinguish calm spots of water, which likely represent the spread of oil from the ship.
Since Rena struck the reef on October 5, it has spilled more than 350 tonnes of oil and dozens of containers into the sea, causing some in New Zealand to question the safety of the proposed offshore drilling, turning it into an electoral issue, according to the NZ Herald.
Salvors are currently making preparations to pump the last tank containing approximately 358 tonnes of heavy oil fuel. They will use a slower ‘hot tapping’ methos to extract the last of the oil, which involves cutting a hole into the tank and filling it with seawater, causing the oil to rise to the top, where it can be extracted.
So far, salvors have removed about 1000 tonnes of heavy oil fuel from the ship’s other tanks.
More than 100 clean up operations have occurred on the nearby coastline since a volunteer clean-up program began on October 12, with 4000 workers totalling more than 12,000 hours.
For a larger version of the image, visit http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/rena-crisis/5803741/Satellite-images-of-oil-revealed