Rena update (update 50)

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Rena update (update 50)

25 October 2011: 7.30am

Salvors have continued to pump oil from the grounded vessel Rena overnight, while on shore the incident command team is planning for any impact on the shoreline from the oil that leaked from the ship on Saturday night.

Nearly a third of the oil on board the grounded Rena at Tauranga has now been pumped off the ship, with a total of 481 tonnes of oil removed from the port number 5 tank (which originally held 772 tonnes) by 3pm yesterday.

This leaves approximately 870 tonnes in the ship, held in four different tanks.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) Salvage Unit Manager Bruce Anderson said two booster pumps installed on Sunday afternoon had sped up the pumping rate from the port tank, and Svitzer’s salvage teams were continuing to work on ways to extract oil from the submerged starboard tank and two settling tanks in the engine room.

The salvors loaded more equipment on the ship yesterday afternoon, including a lighting system.

“This is important, because they have been working in dark, oily corridors, which is clearly risky and challenging,” Mr Anderson said.

“The lighting will make the working environment safer for the teams on board. They have also loaded heavy duty compressors to aid the pumping system.”

National On-Scene Commander Rob Service said planning teams were continuing to track the movement of between 5 and 10 tonnes that leaked from the ship overnight Saturday.

“While this is a relatively small amount of oil, it is the most significant amount released since the major spill on 11 October,” Mr Service said.

“The slick remains around the vessel for now, but our current modelling suggests it will move slowly north from Wednesday and possibly reach the shoreline of Tūhua/Mayor Island on Thursday.

“We have sent a team of wildlife experts to the island to assess what we can do to protect wildlife if we get some shoreline impact there in the next few days. The team is working with iwi, who own and care for the island, as local expertise and knowledge is hugely valuable.”

Mr Service said the team would assess what likely response options were available to them and report back to the wildlife team in the incident command centre.

He stressed that the trajectory modelling was only indicative. The conditions on the water were “very dynamic”, which made trajectory modelling difficult.

“We will continue to track the slick with observation flights and on-water surveillance as well. It is spread very thinly and this will help break up the oil over the next day or so.”

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