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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Salvors pump another 60 tonnes off stricken oil container ship Rena in New Zealand waters

NEW Zealand salvors have pumped another 60 tonnes of heavy oil off the stricken container ship Rena overnight and will continue their operations through good weather today.

The grounded cargo ship remains broken but stable on Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga as salvage teams work to empty the vessel's fuel tanks of about 1140 tonnes that remain.

Maritime New Zealand salvage unit Manager Bruce Anderson said on Friday the pumping operation was making slow but steady progress.
"The overnight crew will be replaced this morning and pumping will continue today," he said.

"The salvage crew also intends to do sounding tests on the tanks which will provide us with a more precise figure of how much oil remains."

The pumping attempt is just the second since the Rena first grounded on October 5, triggering a marine disaster bigger than anything New Zealand has ever faced.
About 90 tonnes was removed before storms forced salvors to abandon the ship on Monday.

An estimated 350 tonnes had spilled into waters off the Bay of Plenty coast and spread up towards East Cape where oily debris has been sighted at Te Kaha, Waihau Bay and Lottin Point.

"We are seeing a lot of debris from the containers washing up in the eastern Bay of Plenty," national on-scene commander Alex van Wijngaarden confirmed.
He said today's volunteer efforts would focus on clean-ups at the Mount Maunganui's main beach, nearby Papamoa and at Maketu and Waihau Bay further to the east.
"As always, we ask members of the public to work with the response teams to ensure a methodical and safe clean-up," Captain van Wijngaarden said.

Beaches in and around Mount Maunganui would remain closed for swimming and surfing as more oil drifts in, he said.
However, the main Mount Maunganui Beach will stay open for walking.
Fine weather is expected for the long weekend, assisting salvors and clean-up crews.

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