New Zealand. Calm weather assists Rena cleanup

Saturday, 22 October 2011


Relatively calm weather has allowed on-going pumping of oil from the vessel Rena today, while clean-up operations continue at various points along the coastline.

There have been no significant leaks of fresh oil from Rena for 11 days, which means that most of the oil coming ashore is remobilised oil – oil that has come in, washed out and then come ashore again with the tide.

The amount of oil removed from Rena in the past 24 hours will be provided later this afternoon. As of yesterday afternoon 171 tonnes had been transferred from the largest (772 tonne) tank to the tanker Awanuia.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Bruce Anderson said pumping had been at varying rates, but the salvors were making steady progress.

The clean-up events today are occurring at five main points along about 30km of coastline, with the remotest at Waihau Bay, about 200km from Tauranga.

Operation Beach Clean volunteers Manager Pim de Monchy said there was great enthusiasm among the volunteers.

”Initially there was frustration – and of course anger that this happened. Two weeks on there’s still plenty of ‘how and why’ but also a reluctant acceptance and, most significantly, a determination to fix it.

“That attitude is going to be the key to clean beaches when the last of the oil has come ashore. We’re limited at present, because there’s no point going too far below the sand surface, given the possibility of significant further contamination.”

Volunteers are advised a day in advance where to go and when. They are then trained in how best to collect the oil and then go to their designated area with a group leader, usually for about four hours.

Mr de Monchy said people should not be disappointed if they are not immediately called into action.

“We are extremely grateful – be assured your time will come.”

National On Scene Commander Alex van Wijngaarden urged people to heed public health warnings, even if they can’t see oil.

“Don’t swim, don’t catch fish from contaminated areas and don’t take shellfish because there will still be residual oil in the environment - and don’t touch the contents of beached containers, because if they contain perishables they are going to be an extreme health risk.

“Similarly, boaties need to heed navigation hazard warnings, because there are still about 40 containers unaccounted for. We know some or many of them will have sunk, but some may be floating or partially submerged and these obviously represent a significant hazard to all vessels, but particularly relatively small pleasure craft.”

Further public health information is available on the Toi Te Ora - Bay of Plenty District Health Board website.

Members of the public should ring 0800 OIL SPILL if they find any oiled areas.

22 October 2011: 1.45pm

See MV Rena aground on Astrolabe Reef images

See Environment > Disasters images

Last Updated ( Saturday, 22 October 2011 )