14 October 2011

Tauranga Grounding - Rena update (update 16): 14 October 2011: 7.30pm

The volunteer programme launched today to clean up beaches affected by oil and debris from the grounded container vessel Rena is proving very successful.

"This is a unique situation, volunteers have not been used before in oil spill clean-ups and it shows the level of community commitment to this significant environmental issue," said National On-Scene Commander Nick Quinn.

"It's a hard slog, back-breaking work and the volunteers are turning up and getting on with the job and the beaches are looking much cleaner."

Mr Quinn said a lot of the success could be attributed to those people who had organised the training of the volunteers and local iwi.

Teams could be seen today on their hands and knees rolling up the oil, a method that limits the amount of sand that gets caught with the oil and wasted.

There are now 3,000 volunteers registered on the database. Tomorrow there will be 1,000 people doing clean-up work across seven locations.

"We are now ahead of the oil and we are keeping an eye on the wider coastline, so we can get people to those areas before the oil arrives."

Mr. Quinn also mentioned the very successful collaboration between Maritime New Zealand and Massey University for the wildlife response.

"We have trained for such an event over a period of years. This has enabled us to quickly swing into action to respond to the oiled wildlife."

Oiled Wildlife Response Coordinator, Kerri Morgan said the team was having great success with pre-emptive capture of the rare New Zealand Dotterels.

"These are an endangered species. There are only 1,500 left in total in New Zealand and 100 in this area. We have now caught 23 but are hoping to capture 60 to ensure the sustainability of this population."

Ms Morgan said that individual aviaries are being built at the oiled wildlife centre which require sand floors and need to be predator proof.

There are teams out at night to capture oiled little blue penguins before they go into their burrows, so they can be taken to the centre and treated.

Mr. Quinn said while it was a difficult and tiring for responders, staffs are being rotated and stress levels have been reduced by the immense volunteer support and the response to safety messages by the community.

Clean-up operations

  • A total of 376 tonnes of waste has now been taken to the transfer station. The waste is being collected by two companies working through a consented waste management plan.
  • Potentially toxic waste from the containers is also being disposed of through the consented waste management process.
  • Predicted westerly winds pushed oil away from the beaches today but will extend the area of the oil spill response out to the east.
  • Training is being coordinated for teams based in the eastern regions, and forward operations bases are being established. This will ensure the response is ready for oil grounding there.
  • Beach access is restricted between Mount Maunganui and Maketu Point, including the Maketu Estuary. This is to minimise, as much as possible, further environmental damage.
  • There is no evidence of any fresh discharges of oil today or overnight.

  • Salvage teams were winched on to Rena this morning.
  • The salvage team is attaching four platforms to the port side of the vessel. The platforms will provide a flat surface for fuel pumping operations from the port tanks.
  • The team has a sound plan in place and has effectively choreographed the operation – each team member is clear on what they need to do.
  • Evacuation teams remain on standby to evacuate these teams if required. It is a challenging and potentially dangerous job – but the salvage team we have is the best in the world and they have human safety as their number one priority.
  • The Awanuia crew has been undertaking a load of rehearsals to ensure they are ready to get close to the vessel safely to transfer the oil. This may begin as early as tomorrow.
  • The Awanuia crew has been undertaking a load of rehearsals to ensure they are ready to get close to the vessel safely to transfer the oil. This may begin as early as tomorrow.
  • The oil is now cold, and dense and like marmite in consistency. The salvage crews have revised their plans to remove the oil as the vessel no longer has power.
  • It is believed there is still 1,346 tonnes of oil on board the vessel – 770 tonnes in the port 5 tank, 356 tonnes in the starboard 5 tank and 220 tonnes in the settling tanks. The vessel had 1,673 tonnes to begin with.

  • The salvage company, Svitzer is responsible for collecting the containers in the water. They report they have identified 35 of the 88 that have fallen overboard, and 14 have been recovered.
  • Members of the public should not touch containers that reach the shore, or touch or consume any of the goods that have come free from the containers.

  • More than 3,000 people have registered to volunteer, many through the website www.boprc.govt.nz/oilspillvolunteers. People can also register to volunteer at the Omanu and Mount Maunganui surf clubs.
  • The training and equipping of these volunteers is going well and there will be around 1,000 volunteers on the ground tomorrow, working from seven locations.
  • Volunteer coordinators at the incident command centre are working through a plan to roster these volunteers, so their assistance can be used effectively.
Public health

  • People are advised to not eat fin fish, shellfish or whitebait from affected areas, including the harbour.
  • 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 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.
  • There is further information for the public on health issues arising from the oil spill at www.toiteorapublichealth.govt.nz/rena public.
  • Anyone with symptoms they are concerned about should contact Healthline on 0800 611 116.

  • There are a total of 92 oiled birds at the wildlife facility being cared for.
  • There are now 17 rare dotterels in captivity at the centre – they have been caught to protect them from the oil. There are only 100 dotterels known to be in the Bay of Plenty region – the wildlife team is aiming to capture 60 of these, to ensure the population is protected.
  • There are only about 1,500 dotterels in existence. A special aviary is being built at the wildlife facility to cater to the needs of these rare birds.
  • The total of dead birds has now reached 1,000.
  • Volunteers who want to assist the wildlife response should contact the wildlife team on 0800 333 771.
Booms in Waipu Bay and Waikereao Estuary

  • Recreational boaters should take care when in and around Waipu Bay and Waikereao Estuary. There are booms in both locations to minimise the impact of the oil spill.
  • The Waipu Bay boom extends across the mouth of the inner harbour from the boat ramp to the Tauranga Bridge marina.
  • There are two booms in place in Waikeraro Estuary near the Tauranga underwater club.
  • The booms are bright orange and will be visible during daylight hours. Caution should be exercised when there is low light and at night
Source: Marotime New Zealand. 14 October 2011. 7.30 pm

No comments: