Rena Oil Spill : Rush To Beat Weather


With bad weather closing in on the cargo ship Rena, workers are continuing to try to pump oil from the accessible port side to the tanker Awanuia.

They say if the ship does break up, fuel oil can still be recovered if the stern is on the seabed but that would move the operation into a different realm of salvage.

The hole in the starboard side of Rena is about 60cm across, with quite jagged edges.

About 70 tonnes of oil had been pumped off the vessel as of 5.30pm. The oil is the consistency of marmite and has to be pushed through 150m of hose.

A booster pump is being prepared. Steam units to help heat the oil to make it easier to pump are described as still a work in progress.

A crew of three salvage team members is staying on board overnight to continue with pumping as the weather permits.

So far there is 770 tonnes in the No 5 port tank and two large settling tanks handy to the engine room.

They are less sure about the amount of fuel in No 5 starboard tank, which is under water. It doesn’t appear ruptured and there’s no sign of oil coming out.

The Archimedes pump can do anything from 0 to 86 tonnes an hour and about 20 tonnes an hour is realistic.

There’s an evacuation plan in place in case anything goes wrong in the dangerous conditions and as the swell increases as expected during the night. The ship is listing at 21 degrees.

At White Island, there’s been a light amount of oiling. Officials say that because it’s weathered, emulsified oil in the form of palm sized patties, its relatively easy to collect and remove.

Shot of fractured steel structures onboard Rena | Svitzer

Svitzer Salvage team leader Captain Drew Shannon says it’s a difficult and challenging operation.
“Our team is taking their time to remove the oil safely to minimise further risk to the environment.

“We are also working feverishly in the background with planning and logistics on the removal of containers. Our priority however remains the removal of the oil from Rena.

“We’re continuing steadily with the transfer of oil. We had to first prove the system and now are working to improve that and speed up the removal process,” Captain Shannon said.

He also had high praise for MNZ and the New Zealand Defence Force, and thanked them for their assistance with the salvage operation. The Naval vessel Rotoiti maintains its presence within the exclusion zone and is continuing to patrol the area.

A Seasprite helicopter is doing night surveillance and operational assistance.

Clean up

350 volunteers took part in beach clean-ups today.

53 tonnes of waste has been collected today, with a total of 744 tonnes of waste collected so far.

Further assessments are being done overnight regarding possible reopening of closed beaches.


More than 200 animals are currently in care. Care is being taken to ensure the 40 endangered New Zealand Dotterels in the centre are kept as stress-free as possible.





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