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RENA Maritime NZ Update (102)

Sunday, 23 October 2011 7:00 p.m.

Salvors have made slow but consistent progress with a total of 337 tonnes of oil pumped from the Rena by 1:00pm today.

The port number 5 tank from which fuel has been pumped originally contained a total of 772 tonnes.

Progress has been made on the four priority work streams:

•         Pumping of oil from port number 5 tank has continued.
•         Installing pumps into the settling tanks (220 tonnes in total) has not proved necessary, as existing pumps were found in working order. The focus now is to connect power to them and get them working.
•         Further heavy equipment is being loaded to provide a second system for pumping oil from port number 5 tank. The new system will include a six-inch pipe, doubling the size of the existing pipe, with the goal of increasing the flow rate.
•         Divers have been able to confirm that the submerged starboard tank, which holds 320 tonnes of oil, is intact.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Bruce Anderson said it was good news that the starboard tank had not been breached.

"The fact that divers found the starboard tank intact is excellent. We hope to start recovering oil from this tank soon."

The forecast is for good weather until at least Thursday.

The vessel Pancaldo successfully recovered four containers from the sea floor today. Containers recovered were generally damaged, with their contents dispersed.

An overflight this morning confirmed that there had been a small release of oil overnight, possibly from the duct keel. The lost oil is estimated to be between five and 10 tonnes. Oil recovery teams were mobilised immediately and have been working to recover oil today.
 
National On Scene Commander Rob Service said that the possibility of oil reaching land could not be ruled out.

"Inevitably there will be oil that we can't recover. There is the possibility of a shoreline impact."

The situation was being constantly monitored from air and sea and trajectory modelling being used. The oil was moving northward and current forecasts suggested that some oil could reach Mayor Island. A wildlife team is expected there tomorrow to assess the likely impact on wildlife.

Mr Service stressed that forecasts of where the oil was going were continually being revised as conditions were constantly changing.

Around 350 people including volunteers, iwi and Defence Force personnel were out on the beaches today recovering debris.

Rena Awanuia and reef 21 oct