RENA Update from Maritime NZ (192)
Thursday, 8 December 2011 2:00 p.m.
Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) Salvage Unit Manager Arthur Jobard said salvors had made good progress this week, despite container removal operations being hampered by bad weather.
"Salvors have focused on work on board Rena, and have installed patches in the corridors of the wreck. This will enhance buoyancy.
"We have also this week seen the arrival of the crane bargeSmit Borneo. This has a much greater reach and capacity than the Sea Tow 60, which will enable salvors to remove containers currently out of reach.
"However, it's important to emphasise that the weather will continue to play a huge part in this operation. Smit Borneo will be affected by swells and wind in the same way the Sea Tow 60 was. Safety remains the number one priority and salvage operations will only be undertaken when it is safe to do so."
About 30 little blue penguins will be released this morning at Mount Maunganui as part of the continuing staged release programme.
MNZ National On Scene Commander Mick Courtnell said the oil spill response team was continuing to monitor the sheen aroundRena.
"We have seen a little more oil leak from Rena with the variable winds and high swells. This has resulted in some sticky tar balls coming ashore, and we have had a number of reports from members of the public.
"We appreciate this is frustrating for people, particularly with summer almost upon us.
"Unfortunately, there is still a reasonably significant amount of oil on the wreck, out of reach of salvors. There is also still residual oil in the water, some of which is floating below the surface, and in the sand. This oil gets moved around with changes in the weather.
"Our teams will continue to clean and re-clean these beaches as long as we need to."
Mr Courtnell said responders were also starting to notice algal blooms, which are usually prevalent at this time of year. These could sometimes be mistaken for oil in the water.
- There have been no container removal operations since 29 November. The total number of containers removed fromRenais 167. There were 1,368 containers on boardRenawhen it ran aground and 86 containers are believed to have washed overboard on 11 October. This leaves 1,115 containers remaining on board the wreck.
- Salvors have been adding patches to the hull to improve buoyancy.
- WhileRenaremains in a very fragile state, there have been no significant changes reported in its condition this week.
- Go Canopusremains on station offRena.
- The crane bargeSmit Borneoarrived in Tauranga on 5 December and has this morning departed the Port of Tauranga forRena.
- This vessel has a greater reach thanSea Tow 60, which will now operate as a shuttle barge, transporting containers to the Port of Tauranga.
- TheSmit Borneoalso provides accommodation for the salvage teams, removing the need for time consuming and weather dependent helicopter transport to and from Mount Maunganui.
- Salvors advise that, weather permitting, it is anticipated container removal operations will resume on Friday.
Container recovery operations
- Teams from container recovery specialists Braemar Howells are continuing to remove debris from around the Bay of Plenty, including from Motītī, White, and Whale islands. This includes a significant amount of plastic and timber.
- Sonar teams have been scouring the sea bed for container debris. They have not found anything this week, but have made good progress, covering a large area.
Oil spill response
- Oil spill response teams, led by the National Response Team, are continuing to assess and clean up the beaches.
- Clean-up operations have focused on areas targeted for wildlife release, including Mount Maunganui, Leisure Island, Papamoa and Matakana Island.
- Rough weather and high sea swells resulted in a new release of weathered oil previously trapped inRenaover the weekend.Renahas been slowly seeping oil since it ran aground, however, air observers identified darker patches in the sheen around the wreck this week.
- This has resulted in new light oiling of the coastline, primarily between Papamoa and Mount Maunganui, which is being targeted by oil spill response teams.
- The National Oiled Wildlife Response Team continues to release birds when they assess it is safe to do so, with several releases this week, including the release of around 30 little blue penguins this morning.
- As of this morning, there are 199 little blue penguins and 17 dotterels still being cared for at the oiled wildlife facility.
- Wildlife teams continue to follow up on reports of oiled birds from the public. No oiled birds have been found this week. Members of the public are encouraged to call 0800 333 771 if they see birds they suspect to be affected by oil.
- Wildlife teams are also undertaking night operations to check on the progress of birds already released into the wild.
Thursday: Variable 5 knots. North-east
10 knots developing for a time in the afternoon and evening. Mainly
fine. A few afternoon showers possible.
Friday: North-east 15 knots developing. Mainly fine. A few afternoon showers possible.
Saturday: North-east 15 knots. Mainly fine. A few afternoon showers possible.
Swell forecast to midnight Sunday:
North-east 1 metre, easing to half a metre Thursday.