Rena update (update 59)

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Rena update (update 59)

28 October 2011: 1.30pm

Latest modelling for the 5 - 10 tonnes of oil spilt from the Rena on Saturday shows the slick remains around the vessel rather than heading towards Tuhua/Mayor Island or Whangamata.

National On Scene Commander Nick Quinn said a forward operations base would remain at Whangamata and a wildlife team would still be based on Tuhua/Mayor Island.

“It’s good news for the people of Coromandel that oil is not heading their way, although we will retain a presence there to monitor the situation. We will try to take advantage of calm conditions today to undertake on-water clean up of the oil around the Rena.”

Salvage Unit Manager Kenny Crawford said salvors were able to start pumping from the settling and service tanks on the Rena to the barge Awanuia last night and progress was continuing today. The port number five tank was effectively emptied yesterday. An update on oil pumped off will be made at 3.30pm today.

“Our focus is now on creating a dam for the starboard number five tank which is under water and salvors are making good progress. Once they can seal off that area and get this water out, they will be able to pump oil. But it’s extremely difficult and dangerous work, with salvage divers operating under water to secure the tank entrance,” Mr Crawford said.

At the same time as oil is being pumped from the settling and service tanks on the port side of the ship, work on gaining access to the starboard tank is also continuing.

Volunteer coordinator Pim de Monchy said clean up efforts had taken place today at Matakana Island, Papamoa, Tay Street beach and Maketu Surf Club but more volunteers were still needed.

“I encourage locals and people from further afield to register and come down and help over the weekend. The more people we have cleaning at places like Tay Street, the more likely it is that the beaches may be opened.

“We would also love to hear from businesses that can help with the clean-up efforts. We’ve had some great support from companies that are able to supply a number of employees in one go and we can focus them on one area of the beach.”

Volunteer efforts will be focussed on Tay Street and Kulim Park tomorrow, beginning at noon.

Meanwhile five penguin enclosures at the Wildlife Response Centre have been completed, and five more are being constructed. Alternate Wildlife Response Centre Manager Curt Clumpner said they will house the birds until it is safe for them to be released into the environment.

“The penguins are taking to the enclosures like, well, penguins to water. They’ve got pools to swim in and can socialise with the others now they are cleaned and healthy, instead of staying in enclosures and only being able to swim for a short time each day.

“Everyone at the wildlife centre is doing a great job to make sure the birds are as comfortable as possible in what is obviously an unnatural environment for them.”

There are 388 live birds being cared for at the centre.

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