Disaster marked with drilling protest

17:00, Apr 20 2011
protesters
RISKY BUSINESS: Tim Kahu Hagmann, 13 months, from Egmont Village, in front of protesters Urs Signer and Teresa Goodin.

Protesters gathered in New Plymouth's Huatoki Plaza yesterday to mark the one year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The 2010 spill, which killed 11 men and leaked nearly five million barrels of oil into the gulf, is said to be the United States worst environmental disaster.

To mark the occasion about 20 people gathered in the plaza where Climate Justice Taranaki hung banners, covered themselves in fake oil and spoke out against the drilling for oil and gas in Taranaki.

Okato resident and marine ecologist Lyndon DeVantier said New Zealand needed to look at alternative forms of energy.

"We've got to get off the stuff.

"The longer we delay now the deeper the grave we dig for our grandchildren," Mr DeVantier said.

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Kaitaki Community Board member Teresa Goodin said she was one of few Taranaki politicians prepared to speak out against oil drilling.

"Everybody seems to have their head in the sand," Ms Goodin said.

As oil reserves dried up drilling would become more dangerous, she said. "They've taken all the easy stuff and now they're going for the dangerous stuff."

New Zealand was ill equipped for a large scale oil spill, she said.

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill required more than 40,000 people to clean up the mess while New Zealand had only about 400 trained oil spill response workers.

"We don't have the resources to deal with a disaster like that."

The process of fracking, which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into rock formations at high pressure to force out oil and natural gas, also destroyed the environment, she said.

The Government needed to lead the way in green technologies and set an example, she said.

Taranaki Daily News