RENA update from Maritime NZ (153)
Thursday, 10 November 2011 6:00 p.m.
Oil is now being continuously pumped at a stable rate from the submerged number 5 starboard fuel oil tank on the grounded container ship Rena, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says.
As at 3pm today, around 54 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from the tank had been transferred to the adjacent oil tanker Awanuia.
MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Arthur Jobard said this left around 300 tonnes of oil still to be pumped off the ship to empty the final and most challenging tank.
"It is really pleasing to see oil being pumped from this tank," Mr Jobard said.
"Getting to this point has been incredibly challenging for the salvors. They have worked tirelessly to start removing oil despite setbacks along the way, and this is a significant milestone for the entire operation.
"Every tonne of oil they take off the ship is another tonne that will not go into the water."
Mr Jobard said the team was now working to speed up the pumping rate from the tank, in an effort to get the oil off as quickly as possible. The team was using a "hot tapping" technique, which is a method of extracting oil from the submerged tank without allowing the oil in the tank to leak out.
The pumping rate is currently around three tonnes an hour but salvors were working to increase this by installing a fourth hot tap and adding other pumps.
Mr Jobard said once all the oil had been pumped off the ship, then, weather permitting, container removal from Rena would begin.
The container barge, Sea Tow 60, was already on hand ready to start work and the crane barge, Smit Borneo, was also on its way from Singapore and was due to arrive by early December.
This bigger barge has a greater reach, which will enable it to recover containers out of reach of the ST60. It also has accommodation on board which will allow salvors to remain on the barge, thus saving transfer time.
National On Scene Commander Rob Service said shoreline clean-up assessment teams had been working on Mōtītī Island today, and on beach areas between Mount Maunganui and Maketū.
New Zealand Defence Force personnel, volunteers and contractors were involved in clean-up operations in the same areas.
"The volunteers continue to be a very important part of the oil spill response," Mr Service said.
"We saw around 120 volunteers participating in beach clean-up operations yesterday, and today, they have been involved in the surf washing process being trialled at Pāpāmoa Beach."
Surf washing is an oil spill response technique in which a light digger excavates sand and deposits it at the water's edge, where natural tidal movement separates out clumps of oil, which are then collected.
Mr Service said the trials had gone well today and there would be further surf washing operations tomorrow.
Operation Beach Clean has one beach clean event at Pāpāmoa tomorrow, starting at 10am.
This information and more is available on the Maritime New Zealand website: www.maritimenz.govt.nz/incident