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RENA Maritime NZ update (116)

Thursday, 27 October 2011 7:15 a.m.

Clean-up crews will head to beaches in the Bay of Plenty this morning to begin clearing further oil that was exposed after high tide yesterday.

National On Scene Commander Nick Quinn said Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Teams around the coastline yesterday had identified fresh oiling around Mount Maunganui and Leisure Island, as well as along the closed section of beach between Tay Street and Maketu Spit.

"This looks like oil that was buried under the sand during the rough weather that occurred a couple of weeks ago.

"The movement of tides and sand has brought it again to the surface, and so we now have a new layer of oil to remove."

Mr Quinn said the oil had settled in a band along the high tide line and up towards the dunes.

A call-out to volunteers was sent yesterday, with the Volunteer Coordination Team looking for around 200 people to carry out a beach clean at Papamoa. The group will meet at Papamoa Surf Club at 9am.

Mr Quinn said the reappearance of oil on the freshly cleaned beaches was not unexpected.

"Experience has shown us that this is what shoreline clean-up looks like. Beaches get cleaned, oil is revealed by tides or weather, and they need to be cleaned again."

Mr Quinn said the oil spill response team was trialling beach clean-up machinery which would supplement the human effort.

However, he said beach cleaning machines had their limitations and the bulk of the work would be done through hard physical labour.

"Beach cleaning machines may be another asset in the toolbox. However, we have to be careful that we don't push the oil further into the sand by using heavy machinery. The machine's effectiveness also varies according to the characteristics of the oil in the sand.

"The reality is this is slow, painstaking work. We really must pay tribute to the volunteers who are cleaning these beaches inch by inch.

Mr Quinn said New Zealand Defence Force personnel were also conducting clean-up operations around the Bay of Plenty.

The salvage team continued pumping oil from the Rena overnight. Fuel transfer from the port number 5 tank stopped for a few hours yesterday afternoon while the pump was moved further into the tank.

Work is continuing to establish a fuel transfer system from the engine room tanks into the tug Go Canopus.

RENA volunteer group on beach