RENA update from Maritime NZ (76)
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 7:00 a.m.
Pumping operations on board the Rena were suspended about 11.30pm yesterday due to bad weather, with rough seas and strong winds of 35 knots (65km/h). Weather in the area this morning remains poor and will impact on both salvage and oil recovery operations today. There are currently swells peaking at 4m around the vessel.
While pumping has been suspended, salvage experts are continuing with other work on board the vessel, such as cleaning out the engine room, getting more equipment on board and creating more work space.
About 90 tonnes of oil was able to be pumped off the vessel before pumping was temporarily halted and the tanker Awanuia was forced to detach and stand off. Nine salvage crew remain on board, but may be taken off if conditions worsen.
MNZ Salvage Unit Head Andrew Berry says plans are in place to begin using a booster pump bought in yesterday, which will hopefully help speed up the pumping process. However, whether or not pumping can recommence today will depend on weather conditions and other safety factors.
Good progress had been made yesterday getting oil off the ship he said.
"Every drop of oil that we can get off the Rena is one less drop that potentially can end up in the environment, but given the huge range of variables that can affect operations, it's going to be a long, slow process.
"The ship is stable and remains in the same condition as it was yesterday - with cracks down each side but is still together in one piece," Mr Berry says.
Meanwhile, National On Scene Commander Ian Niblock says there have been no fresh reports of oil on beaches overnight, but that teams of trained responders and volunteers are ready to swing into action when more oil comes ashore.
The state of beaches and other oil-affected areas would be re-assessed this morning, with the possibility of re-opening some beaches if it was safe to do so.
The Wildlife Centre reports 207 live birds are now in care, as well as 3 seals, while 1,290 dead birds and four dead animals have been recovered.