RENA More oil experts arrive 19
Saturday, 8 October 2011 7:30 a.m.
Expert oil spill responders are continuing to converge on Tauranga to further bolster the team responding to an oil spill from the grounding of the cargo vessel Rena.
Specialists from around New Zealand and Australia have joined the more than 100-member strong oil spill response team led by Maritime New Zealand. The response team includes staff from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, the Department of Conservation, Massey University and other agencies.
A total of seven birds - five little blue penguins and two shags - have been brought to the wildlife response centre in Te Maunga with oil coverage to their feathers ranging from 30 percent to 100 percent. The birds are being stabilised and some will be washed today.
There are four teams of wildlife responders based on Motiti Island and another two on the mainland, with a further 10 teams to be deployed today - these teams will be out on beaches today looking for affected animals.
National On Scene Commander Rob Service said dispersant application continued to be the response team's best option for dealing with the spilt oil at this point. Further applications would be undertaken today.
The operations team was receiving extra supplies of equipment from both national and international sources, and preparing for an on-water recovery operation, as required.
Shoreline assessments of the most vulnerable areas have been undertaken today by trained shoreline clean-up assessment responders - information from these assessments is being fed into detailed planning for a targeted response should oil wind up on the shoreline.
Mr Service said the assessment teams were also acting quickly by doing spot checks to follow up on any public reports of oil sightings on the shoreline. No evidence of oil on any beaches had been found to date.
The salvage company Svitzer said it had 82 cubic metres of specialist salvage equipment being prepared to deploy from Australia. The salvage team of 15 would grow to around 25 over the weekend. Svitzer's first priority is to get the fuel off the vessel.
However, Mr Service said criticism that the fuel transfer was taking too long was uninformed.
"This is not like removing fuel from a dinghy. It's not even like removing fuel from a 30 metre fishing vessel. We're talking about an extensively damaged 236m cargo vessel. This is a challenging and complex operation."
Mr Service said reports from the public were appreciated and would be followed up. Anyone who sees what they think may be oil on a shoreline should ring 0800 OIL SPILL (0800 645 774).
Any sightings of oiled wildlife should be reported to 0800 333 771.
For media enquiries please phone Maritime New Zealand media on 0800 774 554.
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Photo: Rescued little blue penguin