“Marathon, not sprint;” more volunteers needed to clean up Bay of Plenty beaches

News from Maritime NZ
More volunteer clean ups of the coastline have been organised for today. “It looks like its going to be a beautiful day in the bay, so it would be fantastic to see as many people out there as possible to give us a hand,” said Maritime NZ’s on-scene commander Nick Quinn.

He also reiterated previous requests for the public not to drive on the beaches or in the sand dunes. “Vehicles make the matter worse because they spread contamination from oil on their tyres, creating secondary oiling, and they compress surface oil into the sand where it gets buried. By driving through sand dunes to avoid getting oil on their vehicles, drivers are threatening an already fragile ecological environment.”

News from Maritime NZ – October 29
More volunteers are being called on to support the Rena oil spill response effort, with four cleanup events carried out today on Bay of Plenty beaches.

National On Scene Commander Nick Quinn said while volunteer support over the last few weeks of the response had been outstanding, more people were needed to help clean beaches over the coming days and weeks.

“We appreciate that people have busy lives, and that it’s more difficult for people to get away during the working week to give us a hand. But if anyone can spare a few hours, either during the week or over the weekend, we’d love to have you come and help us. This is going to be a marathon – not a sprint.”

Mr Quinn was delighted with today’s turnout of about 200 volunteers at the four main clean-up points. “I salute the hardy 200 who braved the elements today. It’s an arduous enough job on hands and knees on a sunny day, let alone in the stop/start rain we’ve had all day today. Let’s hope for a nicer day tomorrow and a huge turnout, given the likelihood of more oil coming ashore.”

Mr Quinn said while trials of mechanical beach-cleaning equipment, including sand sifting and tilling machines had been largely successful yesterday, the nature of the oiling that was still occurring on beaches meant that ‘manual labour’ was still the best method of removing the oil.

“Because we’ve got old oil that is remobilising on the shoreline, we still need lots of hands and bodies to sweep the beaches and pick up these weathered, tarry globs of oil. Once this is done, the next phase can focus on mechanical recovery.”

However, Mr Quinn said a sour note to the response had been the vandalism and theft of anchors yesterday from a boom put in place to protect the Waikareao Estuary.

“It’s extremely disappointing and frustrating to see this kind of behaviour from a few idiots, when so many others are working extremely hard to clean up the oil spilt from Rena and protect the beautiful Bay of Plenty Coastline from more harm.”

The Main Mt Manganui Beach down to Tay St still remains open this weekend, but other local beaches remain closed for the time being, as old oil continued to remobilise in the environment and come ashore.