Rena update (update 70)

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Rena update (update 70)

2 November 2011: 10.45am

An observation flight this morning has confirmed no visible further damage to the cargo vessel Rena overnight, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says.

Oil spill response teams and salvors were on heightened alert overnight after forecasts of bad weather and 5 metre sea state threatened to cause further deterioration of the ship’s hull, and potentially release more oil or containers from the ship.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Bruce Anderson said no additional containers had been lost overboard.

"There is a light sheen of oil from the vessel, but this is consistent with what we have seen on previous flights and is likely to be further seepage from the duct keel," Mr Anderson said.

Weather conditions have eased this morning. The current conditions of moderate to strong winds and swells are forecast to remain for the next few days.

The salvage team will go back on board Rena when conditions allow.

National On Scene Commander Mick Courtnell said the oil spill response team remained ready to respond to any oil that came ashore.

Mr Courtnell said hundreds of people were available for a large-scale clean-up effort should that be required.

"We had shoreline clean-up assessment teams out at first light, assessing the beaches where oil could come ashore. They have reported very small amounts of fresh oil along the beach between Omanu and Papamoa.

"We have New Zealand Defence Force personnel and volunteers ready to respond if a significant leak occurs."

Mr Courtnell said trajectory modelling was being done at regular intervals to monitor where a fresh release of oil would go.

"The weather conditions are dynamic, and they affect the projected movement of oil. We are monitoring this closely, so we will know where to direct our resources if more oil is released."

"Rena has been grounded for four weeks now and during this time we have gathered a wealth of information and local knowledge. We have the planning, people and equipment in place to deal with this situation."

Mr Courtnell said wildlife response teams were in the field looking for affected wildlife. A total of 406 birds are currently being cared for at the wildlife facility, including 60 New Zealand dotterel, pre-emptively caught to protect the local population.

The facility currently has the capacity to care for up to around 700 birds.

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