RENA update from Maritime NZ (124)
Saturday, 29 October 2011 5:00 p.m.
Oil continues to be pumped from the grounded container vessel Rena after pumping operations were disrupted for three hours this morning, when it was discovered that water was mixing with the oil.
Maritime New Zealand Salvage Unit Manager Kenny Crawford said a valve had been leaking water into the tank.
"Once the problem was identified the leaking valve was sealed and pumping resumed."
The amount pumped in the past 24 hours is still being assessed, because of the inclusion of water for several hours early this morning. Three hours' pumping was lost. As of yesterday afternoon, 882 tonnes had been removed.
The sea remains relatively calm, with swells of less than a metre. Swells are expected to increase over the next couple of days, but are not expected to disrupt pumping of oil.
Salvage crew are still working on a coffer dam to seal off and then drain an area that will give them access to the starboard tank, containing about 358 tonnes of oil, which is underwater.
Mr Crawford said it was extremely challenging work, but they were making good progress.
An initial wooden dam is in place and gaps in it are being sealed. Once that is completed, a metal casing will be welded over it.
National On Scene Commander Nick Quinn said small quantities of oil continue to leak from Rena- from the duct keel and/or pockets within the vessel, where it had previously been trapped.
"This is causing a light sheen in the immediate vicinity of Rena, but the north-east conditions mean that it could head ashore, with some landing along Papamoa, possibly as early as tomorrow."
Defence Force personnel will tomorrow be checking up to 50 kilometres of coastline for oil deposits.
Mr Quinn was delighted with today's turnout of about 200 volunteers at the four main clean-up points.
"I salute the hardy 200 who braved the elements today. It's an arduous enough job on hands and knees on a sunny day, let alone in the stop/start rain we've had all day today.
"Let's hope for a nicer day tomorrow and a huge turnout, given the likelihood of more oil coming ashore."
Mr Quinn reiterated previous requests for the public not to drive on the beaches or in the sand dunes.
"Vehicles make the matter worse because they spread contamination from oil on their tyres, creating secondary oiling, and they compress surface oil into the sand where it gets buried. By driving through sand dunes to avoid getting oil on their vehicles, drivers are threatening an already fragile ecological environment."
Penguins at the Oiled Wildlife Recovery Centre have begin moving into their new homes - aviaries complete with swimming pools. They will live in these until it is safe for them to be returned, possibly in several months.
About 300 penguins are at the centre, two-thirds of them having been captured pre-emptively to prevent them becoming oiled.
A community meeting will be held at Maruohinemaka Marae, Waihau Bay at 2pm tomorrow to update people on the oil spill response.