by Gareth Hughes
Since I last wrote a catch-up about the Oil Free Seas Flotilla’s progress, they have continued pumping out an incredible number of updates for us which I wanted to share as they head back to port. They are now up to 22 video blogs, the most recent published earlier today, as the Tasman Sea gets choppier and Anadarko prepares to start drilling after much delay. These good, brave Kiwis are heroes who have gone to the site of an environmental catastrophe-in-the-making to bear witness. For Greenpeace the campaign continues in the High Court.
The Flotilla has now been at the drill site for seven days and nights, and yesterday on their Twitter feed they showed this beautiful scene of their sixth night. Henk onboard the Tiama describes in his blog how the Vega has been tacking up and down along the drill ship, from one end of the exclusion zone to the other. The Vega’s crew and those supporting them on the other boats are relentless, and it is a remarkable feat that they have not given up.
Henk also tells us about the questions the Flotilla have tried to ask the Anadarko fleet, and in Video Blog Eighteen we can watch Bunny ask the Noble Bob Douglas to release their oil response plan. The National Government has so far refused to release this to the public but as Bunny tells Anadarko, “If you guys are so confident that you can carry out these operations very safely here, you should have no reason not to release the full details.” Anadarko responds to this with “no comment,” which as Henk explains reminds him of when the US nuclear ship could never confirm or deny if they had nuclear weapons onboard. In Video Blog Twenty we can hear the messages of all the skippers to the crew on the Anadarko fleet; “rest assured, as long as you are here in Aotearoa waters, our flotilla and our people’s voices will follow.”
Support to the Flotilla has continued on land, including on Saturday when thousands of Kiwis flocked to more than 45 of New Zealand’s beaches to support Banners on the Beach. On Sunday I released details that a spill was much more likely the deeper you drill at a great sand sculpture event at New Brighton. The Flotilla sent these messages to everyone who attended these fantastic events.
I wish I could have been out at sea with them but I’ve sailed with them in spirit supporting them in Parliament. Last week I got to ask a series of oral questions about deep sea drilling. You can watch the interesting responses in the videos below. On Tuesday I questioned the Minister of Energy and Resources about the number of oil spills from deep-sea wells in the Gulf of Mexico, and whether he was aware there have been a much higher number than the Prime Minister’s one problem in 50,000 wells statement. On Wednesday I questioned the Minister of Energy and Resources on Anardako’s poor record, which is tied to the world’s worst ever oil spill and six other spills of greater than 7 tonnes. I also questioned why Anadarko’s oil spill response plan was being kept from the public. And on Thursday I addressed my questions to the Minister for the Environment, about the improper EPA sign off for Anardako to drill when it had not seen the full version of their oil spill response plans. It was astonishing to hear Amy Adams respond that the EPA did not assess the effectiveness of of Anardako’s drilling report – only its completeness, which we now know was incomplete and lacking critical reports.
The push to stop deep sea oil drilling really is gaining momentum and Kiwis are campaigning on the waves, on the beaches and in the courts.