It's bad when a tanker strikes a reef. It's worse when that tanker is carrying oil that starts tarring some of your country's nicest beaches. It's even worse when bad weather makes more oil leak from that tanker.

That's the series of increasingly problematic events that's been unfolding off the New Zealand coast, and the country's government is now calling it the worst maritime environmental disaster they've ever dealt with. The weather is keeping response crews from doing their thing, and birds and seals are both at risk. Plus, in addition to oil, the tanker was carrying smaller quantities of materials like ferrosilicon, which have the potential to wreak havoc in their own special way.

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations matched!

We'll be keeping an eye on how bad this gets; hopefully the weather will clear up, and response teams can get to work. But it's just one more reminder that oil and water don't mix well.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.