RENA Update from Maritime NZ (175)
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 5:00 p.m.
Efforts to remove containers from the rear deck of the Rena are continuing steadily, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says.
As of early this afternoon, 13 more containers had been taken off the vessel, bringing the total removed to 84. The two rear container bays on the deck are now empty, allowing salvors to start on the bay behind the bridge superstructure. This bay includes refrigerated containers, which now hold spoiled cargo.
The Sea Tow 60 continues to operate at the stern of the Rena, where small amounts of fuel oil are being stripped from the starboard tank.
A light sheen of oil continues to sit downwind from Rena, but is not the result of any new oil source.
Work continues with the beach clean-up, including a surf washing process that has been successful in cleaning oil from the sand.
This morning about 350 people turned out to see the release of 49 little blue penguins at Mt Maunganui, marking a milestone for the wildlife response team.
Helen McConnell of the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team advised that close to 300 penguins are still under care at the wildlife response centre, along with 2 pied shags and 60 NZ dotterels.
"The remaining birds will be released once they have returned to full health and their habitat is clean, said Ms McConnell, adding, "we are ready to respond if anything new occurs."
The wildlife team will continue to monitor the birds following their release, as they re-orient themselves in their original habitats, where they are most likely to return.
National On Scene Commander Alex van Wijngaarden shared his delight at the release of wildlife earlier today and spoke of the continuing clean-up activities.
"We have responded to several reports of oil on beaches and encourage the public to 'adopt a beach' to further help response efforts."
Papamoa residents and members of the public are also reminded that surf washing activities involving heavy machinery are ongoing at Papamoa Beach. People are asked to please keep clear of these areas while this work is continuing. Access restrictions also remain in place for safety reasons while this work is under way. However, it is anticipated that these restrictions will be lifted as soon as possible once this work is complete.