07 November 2011

Grounding off the coast of Tauranga : Last updated 6.55am; 7 November 2011

Rena update 79 : 6 November 2011: 5.00pm

Salvage teams are pumping 22 tonnes of lubricating oil out of the Rena's engine room onto the barge Awanuia today.

This work is progressing alongside preparations to extract the remaining 358 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from the vessel’s submerged starboard wing tank.

Maritime New Zealand salvage unit manager Kenny Crawford said that more than 20 salvors were working on board the Rena today, manhandling 3 tonnes of hoses, ladders and two large pumps in preparation for pumping. One of the pumps is now in position and the other is still to be placed.

This morning the salvors who are raising the oil level in the starboard tank by pumping in 750 tonnes of seawater, temporarily halted pumping while they vented fumes escaping from the tank. This took four to five hours, Mr Crawford said. Pumping seawater has now resumed.

Monitoring of the vessel’s hull has continued with no further significant buckling found today.

Underwater transponders have been fixed to four containers known to contain hazardous goods, so they can be easily located should they be lost overboard.

Assistant National On Scene Commander Andrew Berry said sonar scans of the seabed were continuing, to try and locate more of the containers which fell off the Rena in a storm three weeks ago. Several have been located on the seabed within 1km of the vessel. The container barge ST60 will begin trials in the Bay of Plenty this week but efforts to lift containers off the Rena will not begin until after the last of the oil has been removed.

On shore, 107 volunteers took part in the 100th beach clean-up event, held at Papamoa beach this morning. Another 40 volunteers turned out at Maketu and 12 at Te Tumu. Since the official volunteer coordination programme began, more than 4000 people have taken part in clean-ups. Mr Berry said their efforts were making a huge difference to the state of the beaches.

There will be 2 more volunteer clean-up operations tomorrow: at Maketu from 9am and at Papamoa from 10.30am.

Shoreline assessment teams are working at Mt Maunganui to decide the best methods to clean up more oil which has been reported there over recent days.

2 lightly oiled little blue penguins from Motiti Island were brought to the Oiled Wildlife Treatment facility today, bringing the total number of birds in care to 403.

Andrew Berry said that all the birds seemed to have coped well with sound from the speedway event last night. He thanked the speedway organisers and Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosbie for agreeing to cancel the fireworks display that would traditionally have ended the event.

Media update – 7 November 2011 6.55am

  • There is no update yet on the status of the Rena this morning but Maritime New Zealand's first aerial observation flight of the day is underway.
  • Similarly, there is no update available yet on progress with the salvage operation on board.
  • As of last night, preparations were continuing to pump heavy fuel oil from the submerged Starboard 5 Wing Tank using the hot tapping technique. Salvors were also pumping 22 tonnes of lubricating oil to the Awanuia.
Information on both the ship's status and the salvage operation will be provided in the 10.30am press release.

Source: Maritime New Zealand. 7 November 2011

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