New Zealanders in search of Exxon Valdez lessons

This past June brought visitors to Alaska to learn about the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Raewyn Bennett and Elaine Tapsell, elders of the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand, came to look for information and best practices or guidance that might be useful to them in the aftermath of their own oil spill off the coast of New Zealand in 2011.

The cargo tanker Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef in October 2011, releasing over 350 tonnes (approximately 110,000 gallons) of fuel oil and shipping containers into New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty. The Astrolabe Reef, known to the Maori as “Otaiti,” is considered sacred by the Maori, and they are concerned about a potential plan to leave the submerged portion of the wreckage on the reef.

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Citizens’ advisory council for Gulf of Mexico holds first meeting

Representatives from U.S. states bordering the Gulf of Mexico met May 30 in New Orleans to “move forward with the establishment of a Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council,” according to a press release from the group.

The group says they are modeling themselves after the councils in Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet, formed after the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in 1989.

Similar to the Valdez spill, oil industry and government complacency has been cited as underlying causes of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

“Our goal is to learn from lessons of the past and prepare for the future,” said Drew Landry, a native of Louisiana and one of the coordinators of the meeting.

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