RENA Update from Maritime NZ (240)
Thursday, 5 April 2012 11:37 a.m.
MNZ / Spill response
- Debris has washed ashore at Tairua, in the Coromandel (see container and debris recovery section below). Thames-Coromandel District Council staff have started the clean up of the debris, and MNZ, with support from Waikato Regional Council, is continuing to monitor the shoreline.
- There have been no reports of oil coming ashore in the Bay of Plenty or Coromandel, however, responders remain on standby and there will be ongoing spot checks of Coromandel and BOP beaches over the Easter holiday weekend.
- While some oil may come ashore, it is important to note that the amount of oil being released from the wreck is only a tiny percentage of the oil released in the big spill in October.
- An observation flight over the wreck this morning confirmed light sheen extending 2-3 km from the wreck to the north west.
- The weather forecast for the Astrolabe today is for SE winds of 25 knots (46 km/h) gusting to 37 knots (68 km/h) and waves of up to 7m, though this is expected to ease later today. Strong winds and rough seas are forecast to continue through until Sunday.
- People are advised that more debris and possibly small amounts of oil may land on Bay of Plenty and Coromandel beaches over the long weekend, so please take care if using the beach or water. MNZ remains ready to escalate its response should this occur, and members of the public are urged to contact the response team on 0800 645 774 to report any sightings of oil that may come ashore.
- If members of the public do get oil on their skin, it should be washed off with soap and water. Baby oil or olive oil is also useful for removing it.
- There have been no reports of any wildlife being affected, but the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team based at Massey University has been alerted and can respond to any reports as needed. The Department of Conservation has also been alerted.
- There has been no further significant change to the wreck overnight, though salvors have observed further damage to the rear part of forward section and the breaking up of containers in the holds that are visible from the air.
- Weather conditions permitting, salvors plan to land a three-man team on the forward section of the vessel this afternoon to conduct a closer visual inspection. However this will be dependent on the prevailing sea and wind conditions, with the safety of the salvors remaining paramount.
- Boat skippers and vessel masters are reminded to take extreme care, as the debris from the wreck poses a significant risk to shipping. A 2NM exclusion zone remains in place for the Astrolabe reef, and navigational warnings continue to remain in force.
Container and debris recovery
- Braemar cleanup teams deployed at first light at points along the Bay of Plenty coast to begin collecting debris and assess how much is coming ashore.
- All available vessels - around a dozen craft including tugs and barges with excavator arms - are on standby, ready to put to sea as soon a s conditions allow.
- In addition, aircraft have carried out further flyovers to pinpoint floating debris, including a debris trail made up mainly of timber which has been drifting inside Mayor Island, in the direction of the Coromandel.
- A yellow part-container eralier sighted floating on end in this trail and thought to have sunk, has been located west of Mayor Island.
- NZ Operations Manager Neil Lloyd says that as always, Braemar's recovery team will prioritise collecting as much debris as possible at sea to try to stop it impacting on the coast line over the Easter holiday weekend.
- The public are asked to phone 0800 333 771 if they come across any debris washing ashore as soon as possible.
- Braemar teams are surveying areas including Papamoa Beach, and further north at Tairua and Pauanui, Onemena, and Whangamata. Reports of debris include plastic beads at Papamoa and packets of noodles in the Tairua area.
- On Matakana Island, teams using tractors, including an iwi workforce, have begun collecting debris including timber.