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RENA update from Maritime NZ (77)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011 12:00 p.m.

A small amount of oil was released from the bow of Rena this morning. A light sheen of oil has been observed moving out to sea with the prevailing wind while the number of containers lost overboard remains at 88.

Due to poor weather conditions, pumping was ceased at 11:30pm yesterday. A total of 90 tonnes of oil has so far been pumped off the vessel onto the Awanuia.This oil is then able to be cleaned and reused.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Andrew Berry said the salvage company had taken all salvors off the Rena due to the poor weather conditions and movement of the vessel, after first sealing the fuel tanks and closing the ship's watertight doors as a precautionary measure. The fuel line going from the Rena to the Awanuia had also been recovered. The salvage team were now waiting for the conditions to improve before starting to pump again.

"The ship remains in a similar condition to what it was yesterday - with cracks down each side but is still held together through its internal structure. However, we are continuing to keep a close eye on the situation," Mr Berry said.

On Scene Commander Ian Niblock said it was important to understand that salvors needed a patch of good weather to remove the oil from the ship.

"We have shoreline clean-up assessment teams which are very responsive to new sightings of oil and a fantastic team of volunteers on standby should more oil arrive on the coastline."

A forward operating base established in Whakatane has carried out training with locals in the removal of oil from around White Island and eight bags of waste were yesterday removed from the island.

The Whakatane-based team is also continuing to look at options for placing protective booms around Ohiwa Harbour in the eastern Bay of Plenty.

Volunteer Coordinator Bruce Fraser said a last-minute decision was made this morning to call off volunteer beach clean-ups today due to the weather and the fact that the beaches were virtually clear of oil.

"The next phase of volunteer clean-up work will take place if and when more oil arrives on the shoreline," Mr Fraser said.

Wildlife Field Operations Coordinator Dr Brent Stephenson said the team was continuing its success with pre-emptive capture of oiled birds including the rare New Zealand Dotterels.

"We have now caught 46 Dotterels but we're hoping to capture 60 to ensure the sustainability of this population.

"It is extremely important that these precious birds are only handled by our team of trained wildlife experts," Dr Stephenson said.

Collection locations in the wider Whakatāne area have been set up to take wildlife in the event of oil landing in these areas. There are currently 235 birds in care and no mammals.

The number of dead and oiled birds collected has decreased for the moment but the wildlife centre has the capacity to receive several hundred more and treat them as necessary. 

 A new information channel for Bayof Plentybusinesses has been established by the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce. Businesses affected by the Rena oil spill can call 0800 BAY BIZ (229 249).

For more pictures and graphics go to the Maritime New Zealand website, incident gallery at: http://www.maritimenz.govt.nz/Incident/gallery.asp

Rena on 18 October