Rena update (update 75)

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Rena update (update 75)

4 November 2011: 6.00pm

Salvage teams on board the cargo vessel Rena are making good progress, and have resumed pumping of oil off the ship, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says.

Bad weather forced Svitzer to suspend salvage operations and evacuate all personnel from the vessel on Monday. Teams returned on board on Wednesday and re-established fuel removal systems.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Bruce Anderson said dive teams today had confirmed that the 'coffer dam' or water-tight barrier under construction to enable access to the submerged starboard tank was now unusable.

"The coffer dam was destroyed in the heavy weather conditions that occurred after the team left the vessel. Given the amount of time it would take to rebuild this, they have decided to focus their efforts on hot tapping."

To hot tap the tank, a flange is bolted to the deck of the flooded passageway and a hole is cut into the fuel tank through the flange. Water is then pumped into the fuel tank, raising the oil to the top, so it can be pumped out.

Mr Anderson said this was a slower method of recovering the oil but was the best option available to the salvage team.

"The safety of the salvors is always the priority, and the destruction of the coffer dam really highlights how challenging the situation they are working in is."
Mr Anderson said the salvage team had set up two hot taps and was now pumping water into the starboard tank.

Meanwhile another salvage team was continuing to pump the lube and hydraulic oils in the engine room into a centralised tank. The tanker Awanuia was now connected to Rena and the team was now pumping these oils off the ship.
Svitzer was also looking ahead to the next phase of the salvage operation and preparing to remove containers from the vessel.

The crane barge ST60, from Gladstone in Australia, was on scene and would undertake sea trials. This vessel would be used to remove containers once the fuel recovery was complete.

"Salvage efforts have concentrated on fuel recovery as the first priority of the operation," Mr Anderson said.

"However, behind the scenes, a lot of work is also going into preparing for the second stage, which is removing the containers and, eventually, the wreck."
National On Scene Commander Alex van Wijngaarden said volunteers had now dedicated 13,000 hours of their time to the clean-up effort.

"This is truly a massive effort and we are hugely grateful. We really couldn't do it without them," Captain van Wijngaarden said

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