Rena Latest: 70 Tonnes Pumped


As at 5:30pm, just over 70 tonnes has been pumped from the stricken Rena to the vessel Awanuia.

A crew of three salvage team members will remain on board overnight to continue with pumping as weather permits.

But weather may deteriorate - there’s a chance of increased swell later this evening, which may impact on operations.

Another pump has been brought in to help boost pumping operations on board. The booster pump is now in place.
The rate of pumping will increase once the new pump is working.

Maritime NZ says reports by some media that the Rena is breaking up are incorrect.

Salvage experts advise that while the Rena is cracked port and starboard, it remains together in one piece and is in the same position as it has been for the past week.

Here are the other key developments:

  • Some portable steam units are being sourced to possibly heat the oil
  • The salvage team is currently exploring whether the ship’s auxiliary systems can be used as a power source
  • Nine salvors are working on board Rena
  • A Navy Seasprite helicopter is on standby for overnight operations, in case an evacuation is necessary and surface vessels are also on standby during the day
  • Rena remains on a 21 degree list
  • Containers on board are currently secure, but if swell increases, some more may be lost
  • A team from Braemar Howells is currently heading to Whakatane to retrieve a container discovered by a local fisherman near Rurima Island earlier today.
  • Wider aerial surveillance is being carried out to locate any further existing oil that may be in the water or on shore
  • No further oil is believed to have left the vessel and any oil on beaches is from the original spill
  • Seafood should not be gathered from areas affected by oil – fishing is not affected except for inside the exclusion zone
  • 207 live birds and 3 New Zealand Fur Seals are now in care at the Wildlife Centre
  • A total of 1,290 dead birds have been recovered.


Earlier today:

MNZ Salvage Unit Head Bruce Anderson said the team has encountered a number of technical difficulties, but the calm conditions and the forecast for the next 24 hours gave them a good opportunity to stay overnight to complete preparations and then start pumping fuel to the tanker Awanuia that is lying off the Rena’s stern.

While the weather has been good for the past few days, it is expected to deteriorate late today which is likely to impact on the operation.

“Considering that the oil is the consistency of marmite and has to be pushed through 150m of hose, this represents an excellent effort.”

The platforms were put in place on the ship and the Awanuia in position along with the Napier-based tug Ahuriri. They attached a floating line so they can now concentrate on moving fuel from the vessel and force it through.

On No 5 port tank, they penetrated the deck to get hoses into the portway the length of the ship. However the atmosphere has to be checked as due to fumes they cannot work inside at the moment – it’s described as like working inside a petrol tank.

So far there is 770 tonnes in the No5 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.

They will have to do a “hot tap” which requires drilling through several layers, closing the valve and extracting the oil. They know there are 1000 tonnes on the vessel and another 360 tonnes that can’t be confirmed.

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

Air Force Iroquois helicopter winches a salvage expert on to Rena | NZDF


Mr Anderson says there’s an evacuation plan in lace in case anything goes wrong in the dangerous conditions.

“This is a hugely challenging and risky operation even in full daylight – these are incredibly brave and dedicated people working very hard to protect the beaches and coastline of the Bay of Plenty and the communities who use them.

National On Scene Commander Nick Quinn said that there was an added level of complexity to the operations due to the list of the ship and the consistency of the oil.

“While we understand that everyone is anxious to know the oil is being removed, we need to be absolutely sure our systems are firmly in place and that we mitigate against all risks, including the safety of salvage crews and protection of the environment.”

Very little oil is coming ashore now but officials say that due the nature of the Rena’s listing position on the reef, it’s assumed there’ll be another release of oil.

There’s an oil sheen 20 km west of White Island which is significantly diminished. The more chop, the better for breaking down the oil. command post has been set up in Whakatāne and another in Waihī. A lot of fist-sized balls of weathered oil are arriving on the beach and these can be easily picked up.

Some oil has been seen around the Mount base. The Mount’s main beach has been reopened up to Leisure Island but the rest of the beach is closed while water sampling is done to see if oil is buried in the sand.

Around 460 volunteers assisted yesterday with beach clean ups at Mount Maunganui, Papamoa, and Maketu, while a further 260 volunteers from Opotiki to East Cape have been trained and are ready to launch into action. A further 30 volunteers were also trained at Bowentown yesterday A team of volunteers organised by Greenpeace is also helping.

Rena oil cleanup from the beach | Greg Novak

181 birds are now in the Oiled Wildlife Recovery Centre. They comprise 143 little blue penguins, 2 pied shag,1 kingfisher, 1 fluttering shearwater, 1 white fronted tern and 36 NZ dotterel.

1250 dead birds have been recovered to date.

The seal recovery team, which is assessing any seals, says that seals groom themselves a lot to keep their fur. They warn the public that seals should not be approached and you should stay at least 5 metres away. Seals often come ashore to rest and sleep – this is normal behaviour. Coughing/sneezing and weeping eyes is also usual. S

The team will leave any seals on the beach if they are judged to be healthy.






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