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RENA Two vessels out on the water 24

Sunday, 9 October 2011 11:30 a.m.

Two vessels are carrying out on-water recovery operations in the vicinity of the Rena today, while work continues to prepare for the transfer of heavy fuel oil from the ship to the specialist barge Awanuia.

Awanuia is a double hulled bunker barge, capable of holding 3000 tonnes of oil, designed for refuelling ships at sea.

It is now near Rena and National On Scene Commander Rob Service said it would take a matter of hours to prepare for the direct transfer of oil. However, several factors would determine exactly when that process would begin, under the direction of the salvage company Svitzer.

Two ocean-going barges Northern Quest and Phoenix left port this morning carrying specialist equipment and trained oil spill responders. They are tasked with recovering quantities of heavy fuel oil in the water.

Further oil spill equipment is also being loaded onto two naval vessels to trial how it could be used in the response. HMNZS Endeavour is scheduled to arrive in Tauranga around 6pm.

Meanwhile, on-shore assessments are being made of all the areas which could be affected by oil blown on-shore. Based on current weather forecasts, Papamoa Beach is the area most likely to be affected.

Mr Service said that if a shoreline clean-up was required, a sandy beach was one of the easier types of terrain to work in. "It might look pretty shocking but it can be cleaned up. Sandy beaches are at the lower end of the impact scale," he said.

The New Zealand Defence Force has personnel on standby to move to Tauranga at short notice to help with a clean-up if that should be required.

The oiled wildlife response is continuing with four field teams still on Motiti Island, two more carrying out wildlife surveys on Matakana Island, and a survey planned on Rabbit Island today.

Oiled wildlife patrols will be carried out on the main beach between Mt Maunganui and Maketu today and also on the other side of the Maketu peninsular.

The next update will be at 4.30pm.

For media information please contact the Maritime Media on:
spill.media@mnz.govt.nz
0800 774 554

RENA Northern Quest departs - 9 Oct am- low res