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RENA update from Maritime NZ (201)

Thursday, 12 January 2012 5:00 p.m.

Maritime New Zealand update on the Rena response:

Salvage

  • Aerial observation flights and a visit by boat to Rena today by salvage experts confirm no change to the state of the wreck.
  • There are currently 2.5-3m wave heights around Rena- this is due to increase tomorrow with winds of up to 35 knots and maximum wave heights of between 4-5m. The weather is due to subside over the weekend.
  • Salvors today attached extra lashings to the containers on the front section of Rena to make them more secure ahead of the forecast rough weather.
  • The Svitzer salvage dive team is on standby to go down and assess the condition of the submerged stern, when conditions allow. The current sea state, combined with the dangerous state of the wreck, is preventing dive operations at this stage. The dive inspection will confirm the state of the stern, and identify any underwater obstructions, which will guide the next steps in the salvage operation.

Container recovery

  • More than 150 responders have been assisting in the Braemar Howells-led container and debris recovery operations.
  • 12 vessels, including specialist tugs, barges and rapid response vessels have been on water corralling and collecting containers and debris.
  • 11 containers have been removed from Waihi Beach.
  • Container recovery teams have also removed skip-loads of wood and other debris from around the Mount.
  • Preparation work has also begun to remove 11 containers from Matakana Island. Braemar Howells teams are working with the local population to achieve this - some containers will be removed by road transportation and others pulled back out to sea and onto a recovery barge.
  • In total, 115 containers, including 100 refrigerated units, have been processed at the Truman Lane facility.

Oil spill response

  • Aerial observation flight this afternoon confirmed a dark metallic sheen of around 600m by 200m within a larger lighter sheen stretching for about 10km from the wreck.
  • Another patch that resembled oil was noted south of Motiti Island- however, oil spill observers thought this was potentially sub-surface algal bloom. The patch will be monitored by ongoing observation flights.
  • Observers noted these patches of oil appeared to be breaking down naturally in the swell.
  • Current trajectory modelling predicts oil is likely to reach beaches at Little Waihi and Pukehina overnight. However, trajectory modelling is based only on the prevailing conditions and can change - modelling is being regularly updated and we will let you know if this trajectory changes.
  • Protective booms have been put in place at Maketu, Little Waihi, and Waihatanui.
  • A shoreline clean-up assessment team has worked from Maketu toThorntontoday and found no evidence of fresh oil coming ashore.
  • Oil spill response teams have been working at Mount Maunganui, Leisure Island and Matakana Island today.
  • Oil spill response teams have also been working with oil recovery vessels in the Tauranga Harbour today. This is in case of any oil reaching the harbour. Svitzer salvors have oil recovery equipment at the wreck site ready to deploy in the event of a significant release of oil.
  • There are now 10 little blue penguins in care at the Te Maunga facility and 45 dead oiled birds have been collected since the beginning of the week.
  • There are 22 little blue penguins, two fluttering shearwaters and one dotterel in care at Massey University, where they were taken when the Te Maunga facility was wound down. These birds will be released back into the Bay of Plenty when their habitats are ready for their return.
  • Members of the public wanting to assist with the clean-up should visit www.bop.govt.nz/oilspillvolunteers.
  • Beach-goers concerned about the safety of swimming should refer to the local surf lifesaving club for guidance. The surf lifesavers regularly undertake detailed assessments of their stretches of beach and are best placed to offer advice on safe areas for swimming. When in doubt, swim between the flags.

 

Community briefings

Two community briefings will be held tomorrow:

  • MAKETU: 2pm at Maketu Fire Station,Wilson Road
  • PUKEHINA: 4pm at Pukehina Beach Community Centre, 16 Pukehina Parade