Rena update (update 73)

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Rena update (update 73)

3 November 2011: 6.30pm

Salvage teams are taking advantage of good weather in Tauranga today and continuing to progress with preparation work on transferring oil from the submerged starboard tank on board Rena, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Bruce Anderson said 22 salvors were on board Rena. The first team on board this morning conducted safety inspections to ensure there were no noxious gases present.

Mr Anderson said this was a standard health and safety step to make sure the vessel was as safe as possible for salvors to work on.

"Once a safe working environment was established, another team continued to work on transferring oil and residual lubricants in the engine room to a centralised tank, which will make it easier to pump off Rena and onto Awanuia, which is due back on site today."

Divers have continued to work on re-establishing the dive station, so a team can recommence work on accessing the 358 tonnes of oil in the submerged 5 starboard tank.

In tandem with this, work is also progressing on a 'hot tapping' technique to transfer the oil from the starboard tank. Hot tapping is a method of penetrating an oil tank underwater in a manner that does not release oil.

Assistant National On Scene Commander Andrew Berry said the oil spill response team was continuing to assess, clean and re-clean the oiled beaches. The team was also continuing to ensure readiness for a further significant release of oil from the ship.

Mr Berry said reports of oil in the water at Mount Maunganui yesterday had been followed up this morning by sending shoreline clean up assessment teams to the beach. A small amount of oil was found at the high tide mark near Leisure Island. This was likely to be the result of the storm on Tuesday night, which has remobilised old oil submerged in the water or buried in the sand.

Mr Berry said there was still residual oil in the water and in the sand.

"While we are making every effort to clean the beaches, this residual oil will continue to surface – this is just part of the process and people will need to be patient. We will continue to direct our clean-up crews to areas where there are high concentrations of this oil coming ashore."

"People should continue to exercise caution – if they see oil, they should try to avoid it, and to report it to 0800 OIL SPILL."

Mr Berry said 170 volunteers were out on clean-up duties today on Motiti Island, Maketu Peninsula, Papamoa and Te Tumu.

Volunteers wanting to join the clean-up effort tomorrow should go to the Papamoa Surf Club at 9am.

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