Rena's Owner Charged in Court

Daina Shipping Co., a Greek company, has been charged under section 338(1B) and 15(B) of the Resource Management Act of 1991 and could face significant fines.

One day after overflights confirmed that the stern section of the stranded ship Rena had sunk, raising the possibility that more oil from the container ship will come ashore on New Zealand beaches, Maritime New Zealand filed charges against the ship's registered owner. The Rena ran aground on Astrolabe Reef on Oct. 5, 2011, and has been stuck there since, with salvors removing containers, pumping oil from its tanks, and trying to minimize the environmental damage.

Daina Shipping Co., a Greek company, has been charged under section 338(1B) and 15(B) of the Resource Management Act of 1991, which refers to the "discharge of harmful substances from ships" in coastal marine areas. This charge carries a maximum fine of $600,000 plus $10,000 for every day the offending continues, according to Maritime New Zealand. The charge was filed in Tauranga District Court with proceedings to begin May 25.

The ship's master and second officer pleaded guilty to several charges Feb. 29 and are scheduled to be sentenced May 25. Maritime New Zealand said no more charges will be filed in connection with the grounding.

An exclusion zone extending two nautical miles out from the reef remains in effect because debris poses a hazard for vessels.

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