16 January 2012 - 3.30PM
Divers today continued a full assessment of the state of the wreck of the Rena - its stability on the reef and general condition - as the first stage of working out what to do next.
“It’s extremely challenging and dangerous work,” National On Scene Commander Rob Service said, “because of the surges of water through the broken structure and the vast amount of torn steel and other debris.”
For safety reasons, the divers will not be entering the vessel’s holds until it is deemed safe to do so.
A sonar inspection was undertaken yesterday, with the results awaited.
The Braemar Howells container recovery team said three containers submerged off Matakana Island will be inspected this week to try to identify them and check their condition.
Debris collection around White Island and at Motiti Island will be a focus of the clean-up this week.
Two boats are already positioned in the White Island region ready to begin debris retrieval. A container base has been retrieved from White Island. A barge will be sent to Motiti Island to remove debris, which includes wood and milk powder bags.
Beach clean-ups will continue in Bowentown and Matakana Island at low tide. Further down the coast in the Whakatane area, local contracted labour workforce are being activated to tackle debris removal. This will cover the area from Whakatane to Torere, including Opotiki and Ohope beach.
Another container washed ashore today on rocks in the Bowentown area. Retrieval is likely to be by boat.
Braemar Howells said 52 containers have so far been recovered from the beaches and the water and 18 others have been located, either on beaches or in the water
Sonar has identified seven possible targets between the Rena wreck and Motiti Island.
Mr Service said oil clean-up at Mount Maunganui and Leisure Island resumed today after yesterday’s rest day, with 15 people working at each site.
“In both cases the oil being collected is predominantly old oil that has been exposed as a result of sand erosion, rather than fresh oil from the Rena breaking in two last week,” he said. Concentrated clean-up will continue at Mount Maunganui for the next three days.”
Repairs have been carried out to a leaking oil protective boom at Maketu, with no oil entering the estuary.
A SCAT team has been at Motiti Island today surveying the coastline for oil.
The clean-up at Matakana Island continues – large quantities of timber, wool, twine and other debris, much of it oil-coated. Some pallets of timber are almost completely buried in sand after the recent storms.
Wildlife field teams have been at Matakana and Motiti Islands today, and north of Waihi.
Currently, there are 34 little blue penguins in care, along with three grey-faced petrels and one dotterel.
Mr Service said New Zealand Defence Force personnel were no longer involved in clean-up or other aspects of Rena recovery.
“The last left this morning but they will remain on call to return. They’ve done a sterling job – at sea, in the air and on the beaches in the past few months. We’re extremely grateful for the assets they have provided and their commitment to the task at hand.”