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RENA update from Maritime NZ (51)

Thursday, 13 October 2011 2:33 p.m.

MNZ National On Scene Commander Nick Quinn is urging people to respect the job his team is doing on the local beaches.
"Of course we understand the public curiosity but safety is our top priority so please let us get on with the job," Mr Quinn said.
"We are now restricting beach access so we'd also ask people to be patient while we deal with what's coming ashore.
"The restrictions are in place to ensure the safety of the public, and to ensure our trained responders and volunteers can get on with cleaning up this oil."

Clean-up operations

• There is a massive operation underway today with around 500 responders on the beach.
• Access has been restricted in the area from Mount Maunganui to Maketu Point, including the Maketu Estuary. The public is asked to please stay away from the beaches while the clean-up is underway.
• There are six vessels patrolling in the harbour picking up debris that has come from the ship.
• There are two vessels preparing for offshore booming should this be viable.
• The heaviest concentration of oil coming onto the beach at Papamoa.
• The Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Teams are continuing to conduct assessments from Waihi to Whakatane.
• The effectiveness of the Corexit 9500 dispersant has been shown as insufficient to justify aerial application to the spilled oil. We have consequently ended the aerial application trials and will continue to assess all response options.

Salvage

• Three salvage experts were winched down to the Rena this morning.
• They are inspecting the damage to the vessel, and assessing the capability to use the equipment on the ship to resume removing the fuel from the ship.
• The barge Awanuia is putting new mooring arrangements in place to allow for the safe transfer of oil.

Containers

• 88 containers have been reported as fallen from the ship.
• The salvage company Svitzer is responsible for collecting the containers in the water. The New Zealand Police and the Fire Service are assisting MNZ in recovering the containers that have reached the shoreline.
• Members of the public should not touch containers that reach the shore, or any of the goods that have come free from the containers. Members of the public should please report container sightings with exact location details, to 0800 OIL SPILL.

Wildlife

• There are 51 oiled birds and three seals at the oiled wildlife facility.
• The wildlife team has also pre-emptively captured eight dotterels from Maketu Peninsula.
• There are several hundred dead birds recovered and this is expected to increase significantly. A detailed count will be provided at the end of the day.
• There are 36 teams out in the field and at the wildlife facility.
• The public are asked to please report dead birds, as the wildlife team will come and retrieve the birds as they need to examine them as part of their process.

Volunteers

• Trained responders have been training volunteer supervisors today. These volunteer supervisors will be out on the beaches from tomorrow, leading teams of volunteers in removing the oil in a coordinated and methodical manner.
• It is important volunteers go through the registration process - this ensures they are safe, the clean-up is undertaken methodically, and the waste disposed of correctly.
• Over a thousand people have volunteered to assist with the cleanup which is really heartening, as it shows just how deeply the people of the Bay of Plenty care about their environment This is hard physical labour and the fact that people are continuing to volunteer is appreciated.
• If you want to volunteer and haven't yet done so, please phone 0800 645 774 or through the website www.boprc.govt.nz/oilspillvolunteers. For those of you who already have volunteered and haven't yet been contacted please be patient - we will get to you.

Waste disposal

• The oily waste is being collected by two approved waste companies.
• It is then taken to a consented transfer station and transported by lined truck and trailer units to a Class A landfill, which can accept toxic substances.
• Liquid waste is being stored and analysed for disposal through

Public health

• Health warnings are being issued to prepare residents for worsening smells from the oil.
• The oil spillage on the beaches, combined with the current weather conditions, has produced in a noticeable smell in some areas. This smell is likely to diminish over a period of one or two hours from the time the oil reaches the beach.
• Some people in the vicinity may experience some physical discomfort. They are advised to shut windows and avoid the immediate vicinity of the beaches and all immediate or secondary contact with the oil spillage.
• Anyone with concerns about the public health issues should call 0800 611 116.

Weather

• Weather conditions have continued to ease today.

Criminal charges

• Both the Master and the Second Officer have been charged by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act (MTA) 1994, "for operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk".
• Both have appeared in the Tauranga District Court and been remanded on bail until 19 October on the same charge, on the condition they surrender their passports. Their names are suppressed.

 

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