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RENA Maritime NZ Update (82)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 2:45 p.m.

Salvors are now back on board the vessel Rena carrying out general assessments of the ship's status. A team of three salvors re-boarded the ship this morning, however, swell and weather conditions have not been favourable for restarting pumping of from the ship.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Andrew Berry says aerial observations carried out this morning showed a very light sheen of oil moving away from the ship in a southerly direction.

"The bow section of Rena is still sitting firmly on the reef, however, movement from the heavy swell and tide action overnight has moved the stern section slightly further to the left.

"Booster pumps have now been installed on the vessel Rena and further pumps will also be added to speed up the rate of oil extraction. Salvors will recommence pumping when weather and swell conditions allow this to be done safely.
"Dive teams are putting plans in place to access the starboard number five tank. The priority however, remains the removal of fuel oil from the accessible port number five tank," Mr Berry said.

National On Scene Commander Ian Niblock said a coastal navigation warning had been issued to include the East Cape, following the discovery of the oil-covered remains of containers that washed ashore at Te Kaha and Te Araroa this morning.

"Recovery teams have been sent to pick up this debris and it is possible that more debris may arrive. We are working closely with iwi in the area to coordinate the clean-up action taken.

"A forward-operating base established in Whakatāne has been working on recovery plans for the affected eastern areas and clean-up crews have already received training and are on standby ready to assist," Mr Niblock says.

The salvors are responsible for the recovery of containers and continue with their aerial mapping coverage and sea-based surveillance. Containers have been located at Mōtītī Island and White Island and debris found at Cape Runaway and Lottin Point this morning is in the process of being recovered.

New Zealand Defence Force is standing down some of its operations, as there have been no new spillages of oil or containers. They will remain on standby should the situation change.

The naval force will now consist of one inshore patrol vessel maintaining a presence within the maritime exclusion zone and a Seasprite SH2G helicopter for night operations, including search and rescue.

The land-based operation is focused on beach clean-up activity in the Harrison's Cut area of Papamoa beach.  There are also land-based support elements providing logistic and transport assistance to the operation.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force continues to provide an Iroquois helicopter for tasks such as transporting emergency response teams and equipment.
Shoreline clean-up assessment teams have identified small tar oiled patties at Moturiki (Leisure Island), Pukehina and Maketu spit. These will be collected.

Volunteer clean-up activity was scaled down yesterday due to weather conditions and the fact that beaches remain largely clear of oil. The clean-up effort has made a big difference to the surface oil on the beaches, but the next phase of clean-up work will be best left until the current band of poor weather passes.

Volunteers will continue to be called upon during the next few weeks, especially if Rena releases more oil.

The Wildlife Response Centre received 16 new intakes overnight, bringing the total number in care to 269.

The wildlife team thanks people who have knitted and sent in jumpers to clothe recovering little blue penguins. Facility manager Dr Brett Gartrell said the rehabilitation centre has now received enough jumpers and no more were needed.

Rena 19 October