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Martime NZ holds Media Conference to update on Rena salvage + Audio

by Richard Gladwell on 8 Oct 2011
The 236m long Rena stuck on Astrolabe Reef, Tauranga Sunlive www.sunlive.co.nz
Maritime New Zealand held a further media session this afternoon at 1530hrs in Tauranga to update on progress with the stricken container ship Rena, which hit the Astrolabe Reef, off Tauranga on Wednesday morning.

A full audio of the Media Conference is included with this story


Key points from Saturday afternoon's media conference.

The salvage operation is very complex and the vessel is in a unique situation – the front of the vessel is hard on the reef and from the middle of the ship back, it is floating. It is listing at 11 degrees which makes it difficult to work on.

The salvage team engaged is the best in the world.

The salvage operation’s key focus is safely removing the fuel from the vessel and ensuring the impact on the environment is minimised.

There are no cranes on the ship, so specialist heavy lifting equipment has to be brought out. The decks are covered in containers, so there are very few areas to safely land equipment. The salvors are also assessing how to safely refloat the vessel once the oil has been removed, but to do this, a lot of weight (mainly from the containers) must first be removed.

Teams of naval architects are working on the salvage issues and are on board assessing the strength of the ship. The salvage team hopes to start pumping tomorrow evening – but this depends on the weather and the damage to the ship. These teams are working around the clock.

The Naval vessel Manawanui has arrived. Rotoiti arrived this afternoon and Taupo is due at 7pm, with Endeavour due on Monday. Endeavour can hold around 3000 cubic metres of waste oil.

The oil barge Awanuia is due to arrive no later than tomorrow morning.

Oil is being moved within the vessel to get it as far away as possible from the damaged parts of the hull and in anticipation of it being pumped off the vessel.

Further information

Some new oil was spotted this afternoon, however, this appears to have dispersed.

The oil spill response team has been spraying dispersant on the slick. The dispersant appears to be continuing to work to some extent and we have brought in specialised equipment to measure exactly how this is working.

A 15-strong salvage team is working around the clock and a great deal of equipment has been mobilised.
Preparation for on-water recovery and shoreline cleanup is progressing well.

Shoreline clean-up assessment teams have been on beaches this afternoon, but have not reported any oil on the shore to date.

Two assessment teams are inspecting Matakana Island and Maketu Estuary with a view to possibly using oil booms, and a shoreline cleanup plan is in place. Staff are working with scientists and iwi and are undertaking reef dives off the north coast of Motiti Island with aerial surveys down as far as Waihi Beach.

There are now around 200 people in the oil spill response team, including experts from MNZ, the Department of Conservation, Forest & Bird, Massey and Waikato Universities, and local councils.

Specialists from the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and Holland are also involved in the response.
Representatives from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) are now working in the incident command centre to help coordinate supply of NZDF equipment and personnel to the response.

300 Defence Force personnel are on standby.

The oiled wildlife centre has five little blue penguins and two shags affected by oil. Washing began at 10am this morning. All birds are doing well. No further oiled animals have been found today.

The wildlife team has 85 personnel in 14 teams working on the response. Centres have been established on Motiti Island and in Te Maunga. There are also three boats doing marine sweeps.

Reports from the public are appreciated. Anyone who sees oil on a shoreline call 0800 OIL SPILL (0800 645 774). Any sightings of oiled wildlife 0800 333 771. Do NOT attempt to clean wildlife yourself.

Response options have been prepared for Motiti Island, Tauranga Harbour and Mayor Island.

A decontamination unit for vessels and people has been set up and waste management organised. The Fire Brigade’s mobile incident command centre has arrived to coordinate this.

Progress on implementation of the salvor’s plan is highly weather dependent. At present the weather conditions for the remainder of the weekend are good. Winds are expected to increase to 25 knots on Monday.

Non-essential crew from the Rena are being taken ashore this evening to make way for those involved in the salvage. The remaining will be used to help move the cargo and pump oil off the vessel.

Further information:
Volunteers


The response team is not currently seeking volunteers. We are aware people want to help and appreciate that. We are working to develop a volunteer register in the next couple of days but we don’t need offers of help just yet.

Public hotlines
Members of the public with information for the oil spill response team can call the public hotline 0800 OIL SPILL.

Members of the public with information for the wildlife response, please call 0800 333 771

Air space exclusion zone
Pilots are reminded there is an exclusion zone over the spill site. There have been a few reports of breaches of the temporary excluded air space established around the Rena that are causing concern for Air Operations staff. A NOTAM (notice to airmen) was issued by the Civil Aviation Authority on Thursday in order to ensure the safety of response personnel undertaking aerial works around the vessel. Yesterday MNZ Air Operations staff ensured that aircraft had vacated the zone to ensure that P3 Orion flights over the vessel could be conducted safely. Aircraft identified operating in the area without approval will be reported to CAA.

Boat exclusion zone
An exclusion zone prohibits all vessels from approaching closer than one kilometre around the stranded vessel, and boaties are also urged to stay well away from any vessel involved in the oil spill response.

For further information www.maritimenz.govt.nz or www.maritimenz.govt.nz/News or www.sunlive.co.nz

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