Oh No! Rena Spills Oil Again -Photos
Just when we thought it was over – more oil spills from the Rena.
The rough weather and strong swells around the Astrolabe Reef have resulted in what Maritime NZ describes as a small release of weathered oil previously trapped under Rena.
The swells are also putting stress on the damaged wreck, which Mairitme officials today describe as being in a “precarious state.”
Although the oil was pumped from the Rena, Maritime officials say ias it suffered significant damage to its hull when it grounded on the reef, oil has intermittently leaked from the duct keel, which is a system of pipes running along the bottom of the ship, since the grounding.
National On Scene Commander Mick Courtnell said salvors working on Rena have seen blobs of oil floating from the wreck.
“We followed this up with two observation flights and our team estimates a small amount – perhaps half a tonne – of weathered oil has been released, probably from the duct keel.
“This oil has probably been trapped inside the wreck and exposed to sea water for some time.
Mr Courtnell said it was possible some of this weathered oil would reach beaches at Pāpāmoa and Mount Maunganui, and oil spill response teams would be on standby to clean it up over the next few days.
Affected areas of the beach may be cordoned off to allow oil spill response teams to work unimpeded if necessary. Mr Courtnell asked members of the public to please be patient while this work was underway.
The forecast was for the rough weather to continue today, peaking with 30-35 knot winds and up to 3m swells in the early hours of tomorrow (Monday) morning. The weather is forecast to settle quickly after that.
He says that there may be more – with the continuing swells they may see more of this oil come out of the Rena.
“It’s obviously frustrating, particularly to our beach clean-up teams and volunteers who have put so much work into getting these beaches to the state where they can be used by the public.
“But we have always advised that more oil would continue to come ashore and we remain ready to respond to whatever Rena throws at us.”
MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Arthur Jobard said the strong swells out at the reef were continuing to prevent container removal operations.
“The electronic sensors used by Svitzer to monitor the wreck are not indicating any significant change in its movement,” Mr Jobard said.
“But these kinds of swells can cause more damage, and this is something we are watching very closely.”
Maritime NZ Both Svitzer, and Braemar Howells, the company contracted to recover containers washed overboard, have contingency plans in place ready to put into action if the condition of Rena deteriorates quickly.
More help to remove the containers is on its way.
A crane barge called Smit Borneo is due to arrive in Tauranga from Singapore at 8am tomorrow.
The Smit Borneo is a larger crane barge with a greater reach than the Sea Tow 60. It is expected to take the rest of the week to prepare the Smit Borneo for container removal operations.