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RENA Maritime NZ update (65)

Sunday, 16 October 2011 7:00 a.m.

The Bay of Plenty community is continuing to support oil spill response efforts, with thousands of volunteers registered to assist beach clean-up operations.

Locals have also been offering support in other ways.

National On Scene Commander Nick Quinn said members of the local community had been delivering baking and food to hard-working clean-up crews on the beach.

"The teams have been overwhelmed and humbled by the generosity and kindness of the local Bay of Plenty community."

"Its very hard physical work cleaning up oil, and this has really given a boost to those people out on the beaches and around the shoreline.

"A local bakery delivered trays of hot sausage rolls and pies as well as cut lunches. Cartons of apples, bananas and oranges were also donated. A number of locals also baked muffins and dropped them in for the volunteers.

"One of the radio stations ran a barbeque at the Papamoa Surf Club and one of the banks ran a refreshment station for volunteers on Operation Beach Clean."

Mr Quinn also paid tribute to the fantastic contribution of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

"They are out on the water ensuring the shipping lane into the port is clear from containers and that the exclusion zone is not breached, they are on the beaches in the clean up operation, and they are assisting with aircraft.

"It really is a team effort and it is tremendous to watch everyone pull together in this way."

New Zealand Defence Force

  • The NZDF continues to support Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) in providing a whole of government approach to the crisis involving the Rena.
  • 382 Defence Force personnel are currently assisting the oil spill response operation.
  • Approximately 140 NZ Army personnel from the 2nd Land Force Group, based at Linton Military Camp, have formed shoreline clean up teams for the purpose of removing oil and salvage from affected beaches.
  • Additionally, assessment teams have also been working alongside other agencies to identify those areas requiring clean up, with particular emphasis given to the area from Opotiki to Cape Runaway. This has enabled MNZ to identify and prioritise potential spill areas and staging sites should the situation worsen.
  • A number of Royal New Zealand Navy vessels have also supported the recovery efforts. HMNZS Pukaki continues to patrol the naval exclusion zone in order to prevent vessels from entering the area surrounding Rena.
  • HMNZS Manawanui remains berthed in Tauranga Harbour ready to provide additional naval support if required, and a Mine Counter Measure Team has continued searching the main shipping channel in order to identify potential hazards (including submerged containers) along the sea bed. This has ensured that the harbour has remained open for the purpose of salvage operations, and allows commercial vessels to enter the harbour safely.
  • MNZ has also been supported by both Iroquois and Seasprite helicopters provided by the NZDF. These aircraft have been able to conduct long range reconnaissance of potentially affected areas, and have also been used to airlift salvage personnel on and off Rena.
  • They are also prepared to conduct search and rescue operations should the need arise.

Salvage

  • Salvage teams yesterday attached four platforms to the side of Rena and set up equipment in anticipation of a fuel recovery operation.
  • This morning, the team expects to use extractor fans to remove gases from the fuel tank to make the area safe for salvors to work.
  • It is hoped fuel recovery operations will begin today - the speed of the operation will depend on a range of factors including weather, the stability of the vessel and the viscosity of the oil. This will be a long process.
    Weather conditions are expected to remain good for salvage operations throughout today and tomorrow. The sea state is expected to rise on Monday night.
  • The tanker Awanuia is in position in anticipation of receiving oil from Rena.

Clean up

  • Members of the public who want to help are urged to go through the official volunteer programme. There are now just under 5000 registered volunteers.
  • There are situations where attempting to clean the beach without specialist knowledge can cause more harm than good. For example, the dunes along the coastal beaches in the Bay of Plenty have a wide variety of vegetation that is critical to the whole ecosystem.
  • Dune systems can be seriously damaged if people walk on them or handle them roughly.
  • Any cleaning of dunes along the coast will be done by trained responders using specific shoreline clean-up techniques that will cause the least environmental impact to these important plants.
  • More than 500 volunteers are expected to assist today with beach clean ups at Papamoa and Maketu. There have been 618 tonnes of oiled sandy waste recovered.

There are clean-up sessions with volunteers today planned for:

  • Papamoa at 1.00pm, convening at Papamoa Surf Club
  • Papaoma East at1.00pm, convening at Taylor Road end of Taylor Reserve
  • Maketu at 1.00pm, convening at Whakaue Marae.

There are volunteer training sessions planned today:

  • 10am at Torere Marae, and Waitotahi Surf Club
  • 12 midday at Te Kaha Main Marae and Whangaparaoa Marae. These are pre-emptive sessions to ensure that the community can be ready to respond should the oil reach the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Over 100 people from Ohope and Matata have already been trained.

Wildlife

  • There are now 36 rare dotterels in the purpose built aviaries in the wildlife facility.
  • There are 140 live birds currently being treated and a total of 1018 dead birds recovered.

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.

Photo: Volunteers at Papamoa 15 October. Click on image for a high res version.

Papamoa Volunteers 15 Oct Low Res

Papamoa Volunteers 15 Oct Low Res