13 October 2011

MV Rena - Grounding off the coast of Tauranga: Updated 11.45am 13 Oct 2011

Rena is settled on the reef, but is moving around a little with high tides. The next tide is at 9am. The salvage master and the head of the MNZ salvage unit are going out at first light to do an observation flight. They will make an assessment of the vessel and a plan will be developed to get the salvage crew back on board the vessel if it can be done safely. Human safety must be the priority and no action will be taken that will put lives at risk.

The second officer will appear in Tauranga District Court this morning facing one charge laid by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act (MTA) 1994, "for operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk".

Oil washing up on the shoreline of Tauranga.

Yesterday, 17 kilometres of coastline was cleaned of oil. Clean-up teams have so far collected 50 tonnes of solid waste and 5 tonnes of liquid waste. Today the coastline from Whangamata to Whakatane will be assessed by the SCAT (Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Team) to determine the areas of highest priority for cleanup. The teams will then work methodically through the affected areas. There is a massive operation underway today with around 500 responders on the beach.

Clean-up crews tackling oil spilled on Bay of Plenty beaches from the cargo vessel Rena face a “long hard slog,” MNZ National On Scene Commander Nick Quinn said "Our focus is on recovering oil from wherever we find it and we will go in day by day until this is over.

"It's hard dirty work, but with all the agencies involved and the community pulling together, we will get this oil cleaned up," Mr Quinn said. The response team is working to coordinate volunteer efforts and is asking for people to be patient as they put people in place to manage these teams.

Community briefings are being held and there are calls for volunteers.

Public notice - beach access restricted : 13 October 2011: 11.30am

For members of the public:

Rena struck the Astrolabe Reef about 6 nautical miles north of Motiti Island around 2.20am on Wednesday 5 October 2011.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) is carrying out oil spill response activities to respond to that event, and in the interests of public safety considers it necessary to restrict access to certain waterfront areas in the Bay of Plenty area.

A marine oil spill response is being carried out in the following area:

The area from Mount Maunganui to Maketu Point, including the Maketu Estuary.

To enable the marine oil spill response to be conducted, access to this area is restricted to those persons who are part of the MNZ oil spill response.

Any person who wants to volunteer to assist MNZ with beach clean ups can register at: www.boprc.govt.nz/oilspillvolunteers or on 0800 645 774.

Rena response (media update 11): 12 October 2011: 6.30pm

A large crack appears in the side of
the stricken vessel Rena
The Rena has suffered substantial structural failure, with a crack appearing in the number three cargo hold on the starboard side. 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 3 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. 6 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.  

Debris from containers that have toppled off the stricken Rena just off Tauranga

"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.”


There will be substantial oil on the beaches, in the water and on the foreshore. This is expected to result in around 10,000 tonnes of sandy waste. 

There are 20 teams on the beaches, comprising about 250 people, cleaning up the oil.

Four vessels are in the harbour to deal with any oil that may enter the area.
The ship's fuel tanks look intact and are sealed units. The released oil may have come from the duct keel or an aft tank. This will not be known till the vessel can be resurveyed.

Navy and Air Force helicopters are undertaking surveillance flights to monitor the movement of oil at sea.

There will be a drop of Personal Protective Equipment to iwi groups to allow monitoring of the foreshore in their areas. This has been arranged through the iwi liaison team.

Exclusion zone

Public health signs are put up along the beach warning people to stay away from the water and shoreline

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.


A container that has toppled off the Rena washes up on the shoreline of Motiti island just off Tauranga

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.

Public health

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. 


Oiled penguins being treated at the wildlife rehabilitation facility set up at Tauranga

There are now 36 field teams currently out working on the wildlife response. From Matakana Island to Maketu, the teams are scouring the area for oiled wildlife.

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.

A dead shag soaked in oil from the grounded container ship 'Rena' lies on Papamoa Beach near Tauranga on October 12. Up to 70 containers fell into rough seas and a black tide of oil washed up on beaches. 

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.

One of the pied shags at the wildlife restoration centre takes a swim to help restore its water proofing

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.


Volunteers collect the initial oil coming onto the Mount Maunganui shore on October 11, 2011 in Tauranga. Photograph by: Bradley Ambrose, Getty Images

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.
If you have already registered by phone or email to be involved, the incident control centre will contact you sometime in the next three days to arrange rostering.

If you want to volunteer and haven’t done so yet, please call 0800 645 774 or email iccrena@gmail.com

Community briefings

There are 5 community briefings planned over the next three days in the following areas:

Maketu, Wednesday 12 October, 6pm, Maketu Fire Station
Mt Maunganui, Thursday 13 October, 6pm, Mt Maunganui College
Papamoa, Thursday 13 October, 1pm, Papamoa Sport and Recreation Centre
Mt Maunganui, Friday 14 October, 1pm, Mt Maunganui College
Papamoa, Friday 14 October, 6pm, Papamoa Sport and Recreation Centre
More community briefings are being planned. Visit www.maritimenz.govt.nz/ incident for more information.

Second officer of grounded vessel charged: 12 October 2011: 7.30pm

The second officer in charge of the navigational watch of the vessel Rena is facing one charge laid by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act (MTA) 1994, "for operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk".

He will appear in the Tauranga District Court tomorrow morning (Thursday 13 October).

One s65 MTA charge has been laid.

This morning, the Master of the vessel appeared in the Tauranga District Court facing the same charge. He was remanded on bail until 19 October, on the condition he surrender his passport. His name is suppressed.

The s65 charge carries a maximum penalty of $10,000, or a maximum term of imprisonment of 12 months.

MNZ will make no further comment while the matter is before the courts.

Source: Maritime New Zealand

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