Rena response (update 7)

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Rena response (update 7)

11 October 2011: 7.30am

This release includes the latest information available.

Salvage operation

Overnight, the Rena’s list has improved – moving from 11°, to a more upright position of 3–6 °, and its orientation or heading on the reef has changed by about 4 °.

Fresh oil has been seen this morning leaking from the ship, heading in a south-westerly direction.

This movement is believed to have been caused by some crushing of the rock underneath the front part of the vessel, and salvage experts say that this is normal and to be expected in these situations.

As a precautionary measure however, further non-essential crew are being taken off the vessel this morning, assisted by the Navy. This will begin at first light.

There has been no change to the structural integrity of the vessel, which is described as being in “relatively good shape”, but naval architects on board are continuing to keep a close eye on the situation.

The movement of the vessel to a more upright position is good insofar as it provides a more level platform for the containers on board and for people on board the vessel.

The top priority remains getting oil pumped off the vessel, before it can be salvaged. Overnight, further good progress was made in transferring fuel to the rear of the ship, where it is less vulnerable to spilling and can be pumped off.

During pumping operations yesterday, the bunker barge Awanuia suffered some minor damage, with minor damage to its foc’sle. It has now returned to port to have that damage repaired. As soon as it is repaired, it will head back out to the Rena.

However, owing to the poor weather conditions, the Awanuia is currently unable to resume pumping from the Rena.


Oil recovery

There is a public health warning in place and people are urged to please stay off the beaches and use common sense.

Do not touch the oil or attempt to clean up the oil as it is toxic. Attempting to handle or remove the oil can also make the damage to the beach worse.

The beach clean up at Mt Maunganui is beginning at low tide this morning, which is the best time to clean the area. This will get underway around 11am once teams have been briefed. Approximately 100 people will be involved.

We have had not fresh reports of oil overnight, but more oil is expected to come ashore today.

It is highly likely that oil will enter the harbour area, and this cannot be prevented due to very strong currents, but it will be cleaned up. More oil is also expected at Papamoa and Maketu.

An aerial observation flight is going up this morning to assess if any further oil is leaking from the ship, and what oil there may be in the water. If there is oil there, it will be sprayed with dispersant.

Oil has been found on beaches from Mount Maunganui to Girven Road and on the southern end of Matakana Island. We expected oil to wash up on the shore today and overnight, although we acknowledge that this doesn’t make it any less distressing for local people.

The boom at Maketu is still in place at Maketu and is being checked as soon as it is light to determine how effective it has been.

It is in individual clumps of about fist-sized patties about 5mm high and stranded on the tide line about every 700 to 800mm apart.

Although we have specialist teams on standby ready to clean up the oil, there will inevitably be some delay as they are mobilised and travel to affected areas. Please be patient. Although it looks bad, the oil in its clumped state is at no risk of going anywhere, and people attempting to remove it without the proper training or equipment risk making the situation worse.

No shellfish or fin fish should be eaten from waters with visible oil contamination.

Initially 10 trained teams will carry out the beach clean ups and it will expand to 20 teams later.

Beach cleanup teams will increase in number as more oil accumulates on the beaches by trained personnel.

If people see oil coming ashore please call the spill response number on 0800 645 774.



We have had no more oiled wildlife at the wildlife centre other than the seven penguins and two cormorants which are now all swimming happily. There have been no reports of any fresh oiled wildlife overnight.

We have nine teams searching the beaches and four teams on Mōtītī but there are no signs of oiled wildlife.

We have had a report of one oiled dog. If pets get oil on them, or you are concerned they may have come into contact with oil, please contact your local vet.

Do NOT handle any affected wildlife. Call 0800 333771 if you find any oiled wildlife. If you see fur seals keep your distance and call the wildlife phone line.

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