RENA update from Maritime NZ (163)
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 6:00 p.m.
Beach access restrictions will officially be lifted between Mount Maunganui and Maketū Estuary from 6am tomorrow (Wednesday 16 November).
However, the Rena spill clean-up effort is by no means over, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says.
National On Scene Commander Mick Courtnell said the efforts of volunteers and clean-up teams had allowed most operational restrictions to be lifted, but restrictions remained in place east of Harrison's Cut to Alexandra Place, and at Maketu Spit.
"High-energy clean-ups will continue in the worst affected areas and these will be well marked by orange tape and cones," Mr Courtnell said.
"We will also have teams available to respond to any reports of fresh oil. Members of the public are requested to exercise caution as we work to get the beaches clear."
At the Wildlife Response Centre, just two birds in care are yet to be washed and the collection of freshly oiled birds is slowing down.
National Oiled Wildlife Response Team Coordinator Helen McConnell said birds would not be released until they are deemed fit and healthy, and the environment is safe for them to return to.
"We're checking the birds to ensure their waterproofing has been restored and that their blood parameters are normal. We're also working closely with clean-up teams to identify the best habitats for our little blue penguins when we are ready to release them," Ms McConnell said.
North-easterly swells have prevented the removal of containers from the cargo ship Rena today and salvors are currently working to relocate crane barge Sea Tow 60 to the more sheltered port side.
"Salvors are taking all precautions possible to ensure the safety of themselves and their working environment, but as always, this operation is heavily dependent on the weather," MNZ Salvage Manager Kenny Crawford said.
"The team is out there and everyone is hopeful that the first container will be uplifted soon, but it is a time-consuming process. At this point it's very hard to say just when the first container will be lifted off," he said.
Once containers are removed from the grounded Rena they will be transferred to a shuttle barge before being brought into port, where they will be assessed and processed by specialist container recovery company Braemar Howells. They will then be processed in line with environmental regulations at one of two on-shore processing sites at Truman Lane and Harrison's Cut.
This information, and more, is available from Maritime New Zealand at www.maritimenz.govt.nz