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RENA update from Maritime NZ (123)

Saturday, 29 October 2011 7:30 a.m.

More volunteers are being called on to support the Rena oil spill response effort, with clean-up events planned for today on Bay of Plenty beaches.

More volunteer beach clean ups kick off at noon today (Saturday) with one at the Papamoa Surf Club, another opposite the Logan Road beach access, Papamoa, and a third at the corner of Kulim Avenue and Harbour Drive, Otumoetai. More information about these events is available at the volunteer hub.

National On Scene Commander Nick Quinn said while volunteer support over the last few weeks of the response had been outstanding, more people were still needed to help clean beaches over the coming days and weeks.

"We appreciate that people have busy lives, and that it's more difficult for people to get away during the working week to give us a hand. But if anyone can spare a few hours, either during the week or over the weekend, we'd love to have you come and help us. This is going to be a marathon - not a sprint."

Mr Quinn said while trials of mechanical beach-cleaning equipment, including sand sifting and tilling machines had been largely successful yesterday, the nature of the oiling that was still occurring on beaches meant that 'manual labour' was still the best method of removing the oil.

"Because we've got old oil that is remobilising on the shoreline, we still need lots of hands and bodies to sweep the beaches and pick up these weathered, tarry globs of oil. Once this is done, the next phase can focus on mechanical recovery."

However, Mr Quinn said a sour note to the response had been the vandalism and theft of anchors yesterday from a boom put in place to protect the Waikareao Estuary.

"It's extremely disappointing and frustrating to see this kind of behaviour from a few idiots, when so many others are working extremely hard to clean up the oil spilt fromRenaand protect the beautiful Bay of Plenty Coastline from more harm."

The Main Mt Manganui Beach down toTay Ststill remains open this weekend, but other local beaches remain closed for the time being, as old oil continued to remobilise in the environment and come ashore.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Kenny Crawford said work on pumping from the vessel's two settling tanks had been temporarily halted at 5am today, after salvors found that water, instead of oil, was starting to be pumped from the tanks. Salvors were now investigating the problem.

In the meantime, work on gaining access to the starboard tank of theRenaand the building of dam to seal off the area was still progressing, he said.

RENA volunteer group on beach