Crashed Cargo Ship's Captain Arrested New Zealand prime minister warns ship could break apart
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2011 8:51 AM CDT
Shipping containers float in the water around the cargo ship Rena that has been foundering since it ran aground Oct. 5 on the Astrolabe Reef, about 14 miles from Tauranga Harbour, New Zealand.   (AP Photo/Maritime New Zealand, Blair Harkness)

(Newser) – Bad news keeps spilling out of the cargo ship Rena, and New Zealand wants to hold her captain responsible. Officials say the captain has been arrested for “operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk,” reports the BBC, which notes that the Rena plowed into a well-documented reef while sailing in calm waters. The captain faces a fine of up to $7,800 and up to a year in prison. The judge granted a request to suppress his name because people “might want to take matters into their own hands.”

Today, Prime Minister John Key told the media that stress fractures had been found on the vessel, fueling fears that it could break apart—and spill a remaining 1,300 tons of heavy oil into the water, according to the Wall Street Journal. “That is when this thing will get even worse,” said the country's environment minister, who called it New Zealand's worst environmental maritime disaster. Already the leak has proved worse than initially believed, with up to 385 tons of oil spilling out, officials revealed. The ship also harbors 11 containers full of hazardous materials, though none have gone overboard yet.