Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) has mobilised over 100 people in its response to the grounding of the container vessel Rena on Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga.
National On Scene Commander Rob Service said the response team was planning for all eventualities, including a large-scale discharge of oil from the ship.
However, he reiterated that almost all the 1700 cubic metres of heavy fuel oil was still contained within the vessel’s hull.
Trials of dispersants are continuing today after inconclusive results yesterday. Expert advice was that dispersants were the best option for dealing with any spilled oil. It is not practical to put booms around the vessel because they are designed for in-shore use. They cannot be used in deep water or on a reef far from shore.
MNZ is working closely with Svitzer Salvage, the company appointed as salvors for the Rena. Svitzer has several representatives on the vessel. The company is also assembling equipment for their salvage operation. It is coming from around New Zealand, Australia and further afield. In the meantime, the company is focusing on removing the oil on the ship.
Specialist oiled wildlife teams are patrolling Motiti Island and Papamoa Beach and shoreline assessments of vulnerable areas are underway. An oiled wildlife facility has been set up at the Tauranga Waste Treatment Plant and is ready to receive any injured wildlife.
By mid afternoon, one penguin had been brought in for treatment and there have been reports of more oiled seabirds in the water. The Little Blue Penguin, which was found on Papamoa Beach, was reported to be in good health this afternoon, despite being oiled..
If any members of the public find oiled birds or sealife, they are asked to ring the dedicated oiled wildlife number 0800 333 771 and report the location. The trained wildlife team will retrieve them to minimise further stress to the animal. People are asked not to handle the birds or other wildlife, as this will add to the creatures’ stress.
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