Rarangi wants to rally protesters

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 13:16 12/02/2014
Banners on the beach
Sven Herselman

Banners on the beach will be held at Rarangi on Saturday at mid day: Andrewa Hahlsen, Marite Samson, John Martin, Gabriella Waizeneggar, Jason Tillman, Nikolas Link, 12, and Lucas Martin, 13.

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Rarangi residents are hoping that fellow Marlburians will flock to the seaside township on Saturday to support the Banners on the Beach anti-deep sea oil drilling protest.

The demonstration will see protesters on beaches along the east coast of the South Island voicing their opposition to exploratory oil drilling by Texan company Anadarko.

Rarangi resident Gabriella Waizeneggar said she had been mobilising the community for the past three weeks, urging people to learn more about the issue and take a stand.

She was confident most Rarangi residents would turn out and was encouraging all Marlburians to join them.

Anadarko started exploratory work off the coast of Kaikoura in the Pegasus Basin with the seismic ship MV Duke at the beginning of the month, and have 42 days in which to conduct their tests. The company said drilling would only take place based on the results of the tests.

They were also due to carry out exploratory drilling in the Canterbury Basin.

Jason Tillman, of Rarangi, said he was outraged by the work. "How government can allow a company to bring an untested ship to drill deeper than they have ever drilled before is ridiculous."

Former fisheries officer Vicki Baker had been invited to speak at the protest. "The area they are testing in is 100 kilometres off the Cook Strait so it is closer to Marlborough than many people realise. The exploratory phase is the most dangerous part of oil drilling."

The ability to react to an oil spill was of greatest concern to protesters, with the closest capping stack - used to plug undersea oil spills - over a month away in Singapore, Mrs Baker said.

Both Anadarko and the Government have given assurances regarding safety of the operations, but this has done little to quell fears among environmentalists, tourism operators and members of the public.

Further driving their fears is the 2012 ruling by a US court which found Anadarko jointly liable with BP for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

The protest will begin at noon at the Rarangi community centre on Rarangi Beach Rd.

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- The Marlborough Express

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