Maritime NZ, on Wednesday 12 October, issued a media release/public notice in regard to the Rena Disaster updating on the situation and containing public information relating to the environmental disaster. Also included are Youtube clips from the daily Media Conference held in in Tauranga this afternoon:
The Rena has suffered substantial structural failure, with cracks appearing in the hull. This has been caused by the movement of the vessel as the stern, which has remained afloat, shifting with the waves, while the front part of the ship remains stuck on the reef.
There is a concern that the stern of the vessel may break away. The salvors have three tugs mobilised either to hold the stern on the reef while further effort is made to remove the oil, or to tow the stern to shallow water where they will remove the oil. Naval architects are working on possible scenarios. Iwi are also involved in advising on any cultural issues regarding moving or sinking the ship.
A number of containers have now come off the vessel. Those remaining continue to move, making it extremely dangerous for salvage crews to work on board. Six vessels have been mobilised to intercept the drifting debris in the water.
MNZ National on Scene Commander Nick Quinn says he is confident that he has the people, equipment and plans to cope with the increasing scale of the Rena response.
'Our experience means we have been preparing for a worst case scenario right from the start. We already have hundreds of well trained responders from a number of organisations across land, sea and air operations, and have access to more if we need them.
'Our priority is the here and now, and cleaning up the oil. However this is not a quick fix so we are here for the long haul,' Mr Quinn says. 'Until now we have had a light oiling of beaches – this will significantly increase as more oil washes ashore over the coming days.
'We are continuing our plans for getting people onto the beach for the massive cleanup task.'
· The exclusion zone around the ship has been extended. The new area runs from Mount Manganui to Matata and extends out beyond Motiti to Astrolabe Reef to ensure that all vessels avoid areas affected by oil and containers. This is approximately 20 kilometres off shore. The situation is expected to continue for some time and the exclusion zone is being monitored. Anyone found breaching the exclusion zone could be fined.
· Boat owners are reminded that fuel oil that has escaped from the Rena may stick to boat hulls and gear and will need to be cleaned off in a controlled environment.
· Any containers that wash ashore remain the property of the owners or insurers. Anyone found to be attempting to remove the containers or take goods from them will face prosecution.
· Health warnings are being issued to prepare residents for worsening smells from the oil.
· The oil spillage on the beaches, combined with the current weather conditions, has produced in a noticeable smell in some areas. This smell is likely to diminish over a period of one or two hours from the time the oil reaches the beach.
· Some people in the vicinity may experience some physical discomfort. They are advised to shut windows and avoid the immediate vicinity of the beaches and all immediate or secondary contact with the oil spillage.
· If anyone experiences any discomfort they should move away to an area of fresh air.
· In total, the Wildlife Response Centre has 41 birds in its care – a mixture of shags, petrels, dottrels and little blue penguins.
· Three seals are also at the wildlife facility, with two more on their way to the centre.
· 200 dead birds have so far been collected.
· The response team is currently setting traps for seals to check them for oil.
· MNZ is also warning the public of scam callers after reports to the Wildlife team reporting people receiving phone calls asking for donations.
· Please do not pick up dead birds on the beach. Please call 0800 333 771 with the location of the birds and we will send trained teams to recover the birds. We need to keep counts of the birds to keep track of what species have perished so please report them to us.
· Please DO NOT walk your dog on the beach. This can be harmful to your pet.
· A public health line has been set up – 0800 611 116.
· We need volunteers to help with the beach cleanup. A volunteer beach clean up programme has been put in place.
· Beach liaison volunteers will be on beaches tomorrow morning to advise potential volunteers and the public what the plan is.
· Training of beach clean up supervisors will be carried out tomorrow morning.