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Commonwealth Games 2002

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SERVICES 
Sunday, 10 February, 2002, 15:20 GMT
New Zealand tackles oil spill
Workers start to dig up the oil on Waikanae beach
Gisborne is a popular sun and surf spot
A major clean-up operation is under way after a cargo ship carrying more than 700 tonnes of fuel ran aground off the coast of New Zealand.

Fears of a major environmental disaster have abated, however, after the country's national maritime authority said oil had all but stopped leaking from the vessel.

Officials had earlier warned that if the fuel continued to pour into the ocean, wildlife casualties were inevitable.

The log carrier, Jody F Millennium, ran aground four days ago in heavy seas soon after leaving the nearby North Island port of Gisborne.

It is stranded a few hundred metres from its departure point.

Some 25-40 tonnes of thick black oil have already drifted 400 metres to shore, polluting nearby rivers, beaches and coastline and sending noxious fumes over dozens of houses.

But only about 75 birds have been found with slight oiling, and one red-billed gull has been treated for oil contamination.

Clear-up

More than 100 workers spent Sunday cleaning up large pools of the heavy fuel oil.

The Jody F Millennium
The South Korean ship is no longer leaking
The oil still on the ship will be pumped off on Monday.

Salvage workers want to refloat the vessel before bad weather hits, forecast for later this week.

Some Gisborne residents were forced to spend a night away from home because the stench was so intense.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Greg Ward
"Experts say they're expecting more bad weather within the next few days"
Bruce Maroc, Deputy Director of Maritime Safety
"Our priority is to minimise the potential for any further loss of that vessel"
See also:

23 Jan 01 | Americas
Spotlight on oil transport risks
22 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Oil spill threatens Thai resort
07 Aug 01 | Middle East
Gulf oil spill threatens Saudi Arabia
25 May 01 | Americas
New oil slick in Brazil
03 May 01 | Americas
Galapagos tanker captain jailed
05 Apr 01 | Europe
Danish oil spill: 3,000 birds die
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