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Oil Spill Disaster on New Zealand Shoreline

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Nine days ago, a Liberian-flagged container ship called the Rena ran aground on Astrolabe Reef, 14 miles offshore from Tauranga Harbor on New Zealand's North Island. In addition to the 2,100 containers aboard, the Rena was carrying 1,700 tons of fuel oil and another 200 tons of diesel fuel. A cracked hull and rough seas have dislodged more than 80 containers and spilled some 300 tons of oil already, fouling Tauranga beaches and reportedly killing some 1,000 birds so far. Salvage teams are racing to offload as much remaining oil as possible while cleanup crews are hard at work, coping with New Zealand's worst environmental disaster in decades. [32 photos]

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The Liberian-flagged container ship Rena, stuck aground on a reef off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand, on October 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
The Liberian-flagged container ship Rena, stuck aground on a reef off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand, on October 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
A man looks at waves coming in at Papamoa beach dirty with fuel oil from the Liberian-flagged container ship Rena stuck aground on a reef off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand, on October 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
The stricken Rena is pounded by waves on October 13, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. The ship's Filipino captain has been charged and is facing an NZ$10,000 fine or 12 months jail. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
A fly-over shot of stranded cargo vessel Rena, grounded on Astrolabe Reef, on October 12, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. (Maritime New Zealand/Mark Alen via Getty Images) #
The Liberian-flagged container ship Rena, stuck aground on a reef off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand, on October 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
An aerial view of Tauranga beaches dirty with fuel oil from the Liberian-flagged container ship Rena on October 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
Papamoa beach, dirty with fuel oil from the Liberian-flagged container ship Rena stuck aground on a reef off the coast on October 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
A dead seabird on the shore as thick fuel-oil from the stricken container ship Rena fouls beaches at Papamoa, near Tauranga, on October 12, 2011. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) #
A woman walks by a sign placed at Mount Maunganui beach damaged with fuel oil from the container ship Rena stuck aground on a reef off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand, on October 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
New Zealand army soldiers start to clear the oil from Papamoa Beach, on October 13, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
The stricken Rena leaks more oil on October 13, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
The Rena lists helplessly on the reef on October 13, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand, containers spilling sideways. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
Debris from containers that have toppled from the stranded Rena float nearby, about 14 miles off the east coast of New Zealand's North Island on October 13, 2011. (Reuters/Martime New Zealand/Handout) #
Shipping containers that have fallen off the container ship Rena are washed up on the shore of Motiti Island, New Zealand, on October 12, 2011. (AP Photo/The New Zealand Herald, Alan Gibson) #
People try to empty a container that spilled debris after it washed up on Mount Maunganui beach this morning from the Liberian-flagged container ship Rena, stuck off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand,on October 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
Local residents come to look at a washed up container with its cargo of packets of partly-cooked hamburgers littering the beach on October 13, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
A bird eats a burger after a container spilled debris of burger patties when it washed up on Mount Maunganui beach this morning from the container ship Rena stuck aground on a reef off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand, on October 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
Oil from the stricken vessel Rena coats Papamoa Beach on October 13, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
A seal in a cage during a cleaning session to remove fuel oil from its body at the wildlife facility in Tauranga, New Zealand, on October 14, 2011. The seal was rescued from the sea polluted by leaked oil from the container ship Rena that has already spilled hundreds of tons of oil since it ran aground October 5 on Astrolabe Reef. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
A penguin found on the beach coated in oil is washed at the Oiled Wildlife Response unit set up in a makeshift camp on October 8, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. The belly of the penguin is normally colored white. (Bradley Ambrose/Getty Images) #
Soldiers continue the clean up operations after more oil from the stricken vessel Rena washed up along the Bay of Plenty coastline, on October 13, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
A volunteer holds up a dead seabird as thick fuel-oil from the stricken container ship Rena fouls beaches at Papamoa, near Tauranga, on October 12, 2011. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) #
A shell lies in fouled sand as a wave with fuel oil washes up on Papamoa Beach, spilled by the stricken container ship Rena, on October 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
Tracks left in the sand from machinery used to clean Papamoa Beach, damaged with fuel oil from the Rena, off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand, on October 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
Soldiers scour the beach next to a damaged container on October 14, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
Local volunteers gather deer skins -- cargo washed up on the beach from the stricken ship Rena on October 13, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
The Rena, a stranded and damaged container ship, is pounded by waves on October 13, 2011 near Tauranga, New Zealand. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
A volunteer picks up a dead bird affected by fuel oil from the container ship Rena stuck aground on a reef off the coast of Tauranga, New Zealand, on October 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
A large crack in the external hull of the Rena is visible in this fly-over shot of the stranded cargo vessel on Astrolabe Reef, on October 12, 2011 near Tauranga, New Zealand. (Maritime New Zealand via Getty Images) #
Fractured steel structures onboard the stricken container ship Rena, on October 13, 2011, more than a week after it struck the Astrolabe Reef. (Reuters/Svitzer/Handout) #
A tugboat and a helicopter work around the grounded cargo ship Rena near Tauranga, New Zealand, on October 13, 2011. About 88 containers have fallen off the deck of the 775-foot (236-meter) vessel as it has listed increasingly in stormy ocean conditions. (AP Photo/New Zealand Defence Force via Maritime New Zealand, Nicole Munro) #
One of the rescued oil-coated penguins recuperates in a water tank, seen during a media call at the oiled wildlife center in Tauranga on October 11, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. (Bradley Ambrose/Getty Images) #

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