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RENA Maritime NZ Update (106)

Monday, 24 October 2011 2:30 p.m.

Volunteers who have helped clean up Bay of Plenty beaches over the past 10 days have shown incredible support for the oil spill response effort, National On Scene Commander Rob Service says.

More than 6,700 volunteers have registered to help with the clean-up. The team yesterday marked a milestone, participating in its 50th clean-up event since the volunteer effort was launched on 14 October.

Mr Service said the response from volunteers demonstrated the passion the community felt for their region.

"Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped clean the beaches. Your determination and efforts are greatly appreciated," Mr Service said.

On Mount Maunganui beach today, Phil Keoghan from the television show The Amazing Race pitched in with a volunteer clean-up crew.

Mr Keoghan was welcomed on to the beach by local iwi and the Mayor of Tauranga, Stuart Crosby.

He was given protective gear and training before heading out to the clean-up area where he worked alongside the volunteers sifting and skimming the sand for oil globules.

Mr Keoghan said volunteers' efforts were incredible and praised the way the community had rallied together.

"The number of volunteers wanting to help is overwhelming and so is the effort they are putting in to clean the beaches. Another group of people also doing an important role is the Rena salvage team as they are out there in risky conditions working to get the oil off the ship," he said.

Papamoa volunteer Jan Parks, said the volunteer programme had been well organised.

"It's great to be notified by text or email of an opportunity to help clean up the beach. It's heartening to see that 6,000 people have registered as volunteers and are keen to lend a hand. The public meetings have been very informative," said Mrs Parks.

Mr Service said on-water recovery vessels and an observation aircraft headed to Rena this morning at low tide in case any fresh oil leaked from the ship.

They confirmed no fresh oil released today.

The oil spilled on Saturday night was currently remaining aroundRena.

Trajectory modelling was changeable and Mr Service said the response team would also use regular observation flights and on-water surveillance to track the movement of the oil.

Mr Service said early trajectory modelling indicated oil could reach Tūhua/Mayor Island and a wildlife team had gone to the island this afternoon to meet iwi and assess what wildlife could be affected, should oil reach the shoreline.

RENA Phil Keoghan