Rena update (update 39)

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Rena update (update 39)

21 October 2011: 2.00pm

The salvage team is continuing to pump oil from the cargo vessel Rena today, making slow but steady progress, Salvage Unit Manager Andrew Berry says.

“The volume of oil collected is taking some time to measure, due to the large size of the tank on the Awanuia, which is receiving the oil from Rena.

“The wind is blowing up to 30 knots at times, which is causing difficulties for the operation. However, the team is remaining on the ship for the time being.”

National On Scene Commander Alex van Wijngaarden said shoreline clean-up work was going well, with volunteer teams today working at Harrison’s Cut at Papamoa, Mount Maunganui, Maketu and Waihau Bay.

Decontamination training was successfully carried out in Waihau Bay this morning, Captain van Wijngaarden said.

“We have sent equipment to the eastern Bay of Plenty, with more than 500 units of personal protective equipment and decontamination equipment sent to Waihau Bay.

“We also have trained teams assessing the shoreline to ensure we take a methodical and safe approach to the clean up. What we’ve seen so far out in Waihau Bay is a lot of debris from the containers, rather than oil – it’s a natural collection point and we will just have to keep cleaning and re-cleaning those areas.”

Captain van Wijngaarden said a number of goods and services had been donated to the Rena response.

“We’re extremely appreciative of the individuals and businesses that have shown their support to the response effort.

“We are continuing to get amazing support from the local community, in the form of volunteers, donations, and general feedback. We really appreciate this – it is hugely encouraging to the team to see everyone get behind the response.”

The main Mount Maunganui Beach will remain open for public access over the long weekend.

Capt van Wijngaarden said he appreciated people wanted other beaches open for the long weekend, but the risk of contaminating clean areas with oil was too high.

Shoreline clean-up assessment teams have confirmed that earlier reports of oiling at Whakatane Spit and Ohope Beach are incorrect.

The Department of Conservation has confirmed a pygmy sperm whale that beached at Ohope Beach this morning has been refloated. The whale was assessed by DOC specialists, who advise the stranding was unrelated to the oil spill from Rena.

There will be five volunteer events taking place along the coastline tomorrow, and these will be coordinated through local iwi, the Defence Force and the volunteer coordination group.

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