As one of the team who worked for months on our spill modelling report released today, watching the response in the media and online has been both a gratifying and infuriating experience.

It was immensely gratifying to see those people who engaged with it in a productive and thoughtful way:

The flipside to this was the response from government and industry who clearly failed to carefully read the report, calling it ‘scare-mongering’ and stating that New Zealand doesn’t have flow rates like the Gulf of Mexico and that we probably don’t have heavy black crude here. This left me scratching my head - as our main model is quite obviously a spill one sixth the volume of the Gulf of Mexico spill and we model a medium crude that is similar to oil types known in New Zealand.

As a scientist, there is nothing more frustrating for me than people dismissing the research that I have been a part of, seemingly without even reading it properly. However, there is also nothing better than seeing the responses from those people who took the time to read it and decide for themselves how they felt about it, whatever their reaction may have been.

All the essential information about how the parameters were defined for the spill modelling is provided in the report and in the website. If you find yourself debating with someone who tries to compare this spill modelling to the Gulf of Mexico and talks about heavy black oil, it might be worth politely suggesting they actually take a look at the report for themselves before espousing an opinion.

Finally, I’ve also been wondering, if our report using industry standard numerical modelling techniques is so different from what the industry themselves has done, why have Anadarko not released their own spill modelling to clear up the issue once and for all?

- Dr Rachael Shaw, Greenpeace New Zealand