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RENA Maritime NZ Update (63)

Saturday, 15 October 2011 2:30 p.m.

Recreational boaties are being urged to stay out of the water around the Bay of Plenty.

MNZ National On Scene Commander Nick Quinn said boaties heading into potentially oily water could damage their boat's motors.

Furthermore, boats travelling through oily water could then go on to contaminate otherwise clean sites.

"We know people want to get out there, but you really don't want to suck this oil up into your motor.

"We have a marine exclusion zone in place and we've closed a lot of boat ramps around the region. But people really just need to use their common sense - it's just not the right time to go out on the water at the moment."

Mr Quinn said the tremendous volunteer effort was having a great result, with about 70 percent of Papamoa Beach reported as clean.

"Papamoa Beach was thick with oil on Thursday - today the majority of it is looking pretty good. We are here to clean up this oil and we will continue to clean it. The volunteers are doing an excellent job."

Mr Quinn urged members of the public who wanted to help to register with the volunteer programme through www.boprc.govt.nz/oilspillvolunteers.

"As we've said, this is a marathon not a sprint. We will continue to need people to help. More oil will wash up on these beaches and we will need to clean them again, and again."

Clean-up operations

An observation flight this morning confirmed there has been no fresh release of oil today.

Further oil is likely to come ashore on Papamoa Beach at the next high tide.

70 percent of Papamoa Beach has been cleaned following the large deposit of oil two days ago.

Potentially toxic waste from the containers is also being disposed of through the consented waste management process.

Pre-emptive work is continuing to protect beaches from Whakatane to Whangaparaoa. Training and equipment is being put in place to respond to any oil coming ashore over the next few days.

Beach access remains restricted from Mt Maunganui to Maketu, including Maketu Estuary. This restriction will remain in place all weekend and be reassessed on Monday.

Tauranga City Council has closed the Sulphur Point, Pilot Bay, Fergusson Park and Whareroa boat ramps to contain the spread of oil. Other boat ramps may be closed as required.

More than 4,300 people have registered to volunteer. People can also register to volunteer at the Omanu and Mount Maunganui surf clubs or online through www.boprc.govt.nz/oilspillvolunteers.

The training and equipping of these volunteers is going well. There are hundreds of volunteers on the ground today, working from seven locations.

The volunteers join 140 New Zealand Defence Force personnel and other responders to make up a total of 2,000 people in the field doing shoreline clean-up today.

Salvage

Preparation for a fuel recovery operation is making good progress. Salvage teams are continuing to carefully install equipment for the operation on Rena.

This is a challenging and potentially dangerous operation.

The oil is now cold, and dense and like marmite in consistency. An Archimedes screw pump will be used to extract the fuel from the tanks.

It is believed there are still 1,346 tonnes of oil on board the vessel - 770 tonnes in the port 5 tank, 356 tonnes in the starboard 5 tank and 220 tonnes in the settling tanks. The vessel had 1,673 tonnes to begin with.

Container

88 containers have been confirmed as overboard. Of those, nearly half are empty.

The containers in the water are being monitored by observation flights and patrol vessels. The shipping lanes to the port remain clear. Navigation warnings and a marine exclusion zone remain in place.

Wildlife

No new oiled birds have been brought into the wildlife facility today.

There are a total of 110 oiled birds at the wildlife facility being cared for.

The total number of dead birds has now reached just under 1,000.

There are now 29 rare dotterels in captivity at the centre - they have been caught to protect them from the oil. There are only 100 dotterels known to be in the Bay of Plenty region.

Volunteers who want to assist the wildlife response should contact the wildlife team on 0800 333 771.

Note: some of these figures are estimates, and are subject to change.

ALL media enquiries:
0800 774 554 (0800 SPILL INFO)
spill.media@mnz.govt.nz

International media call:
+64 27 812 7013  or  +64 27 815 4849  or  +64 27 820 4165.

Picture: Aerial shot along Mount Maunganui beach taken 15 October AM. Click on the image for a high res version.

RENA Mount Beach 15 Oct AM Low res

RENA Mount Beach 15 Oct AM Low res