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RENA update from Maritime NZ (177)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011 4:30 p.m.

Salvors suspended operations alongside the Rena this afternoon because of deteriorating weather conditions, says Maritime New Zealand (MNZ).

Five more containers were removed today. The total number of containers removed is now 95, which has considerably altered the rear profile of the Rena. 

Maritime New Zealand Salvage Unit Manager Arthur Jobard said the salvage operation had slowed down, as the location of each container and the condition of its contents affected each removal.

"As of 1.00pm, five refrigerated containers have been removed from the rear bay on the deck of the Rena, with four of these containing spoiled cargo," Mr Jobard said.

"The Sea Tow 60 (ST 60) is currently on its way back to the Port due to the worsening weather conditions."

Mr Jobard said the weather was forecast to be poor for the next couple of days. It would also take time for theST 60to re-establish its position and mooring arrangements next to the Rena once the weather was sufficiently calm to resume operations.

Containers lifted from the Rena are being transported ashore for processing by container recovery specialists Braemar Howells. The company has special arrangements and permissions in place for processing the spoiled goods and cleaning the containers. To date, 84 containers have been received and are being processed.

The prime recovery site for containers is at the Port of Tauranga, with processing taking place at the Truman Lane facility.

National On Scene Commander Alex van Wijngaarden said a smaller sheen of oil was evident beside the vessel today, while beach grooming and washing, and a 'warm wash' process on the affected rocky coastline continues ashore.

The National Oiled Wildlife Response Team (NOWRT) are now planning the staged release of birds over the coming weeks, says Wildlife Manager Helen McConnell.

"Small numbers of birds will be released as they satisfy release criteria and as habitat is cleaned.

"We are planning to have another public release of penguins at the Leisure Island (Moturiki) site and will advise the public when that is going to happen," said Miss McConnell.

NOWRT staff will check Rabbit Island (Motuotau) on Thursday night to see how the 49 little blue penguins released yesterday are faring.

Rena from rear - 96 boxes lighter