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RENA Maritime NZ Update (97)

Saturday, 22 October 2011 6:00 p.m.

At 2pm today, the total amount of oil pumped from the port tank of the cargo vessel Rena was confirmed at 256 tonnes, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says. The weather forecast remains good for further pumping over the next few days.

The main focus of the salvage operation is ensuring the continuous transfer of oil from Rena.

Today four teams of salvors have been working on the vessel, tasked with four key areas of operation:

  • Pumping oil from the main port tank, which formerly held 772 tonnes of oil
  • Installing pumps into the settling tanks, which hold a total of 220 tonnes of oil, in order to begin a separate pumping operation from these tanks
  • Loading further heavy equipment such as generators onto the vessel, which will increase the power and capacity for further pumping operations
  • Diving to assess how oil might be pumped from the number 5 submerged starboard tank.

Twelve salvors are involved. More may join the teams on board but, given the Rena's precarious position on the reef, the number involved at any one point will be based on the ability to evacuate them quickly in the event of an emergency.

A significant issue is the fact that all equipment has to be manhandled by salvors once onRena,as lifting machinery on board the heavily listing vessel cannot be used.

The vessel Pancaldo has been retrieving containers from the sea floor. It will move from site to site to areas where containers have been identified as resting. The initial focus is the coastline in front of the main Mount Maunganui beach.

An ocean-going, heavy-duty tug, Go Canopus, which can remain on-station in bad weather, is now on hand. This vessel is intended to act as a backup for the tankerAwanuia, which is receiving oil pumped fromRena.This will give the salvage team greater ability to continue operations in heavy swells.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Bruce Anderson said it was good to see the slow but steady removal of fuel from the ship.

"Every drop of oil the salvors remove is another drop that won't go into the marine environment. MNZ is encouraging the salvors to explore every avenue to speed up the process, and their commitment to this is demonstrated with the four different work streams we have seen today."

Clean-ups continued at five main points along 30km of coastline, and at Waihau Bay, about 200km from Tauranga.

National On Scene Commander Alex van Wijngaarden said there had been no significant leaks of fresh oil from Rena for 11 days but residual oil from initial spills is to be expected.

"It will be a matter of cleaning and re-cleaning beaches for as long as necessary," Captain van Wijngaarden said.

Booms have been put in place today to protect Maketu Estuary from possible oil pollution.

Capt van Wijngaarden said contingency planning was continuing to ensure the oil spill response team was ready for another significant release of oil.

 

RENA Back 15 Oct AM Low res