News from Maritime NZ
Two empty Rena containers were pulled from the vessel by tug into the sea today, then lifted by crane onto the recovery barge. The different method was used because the Rena bow’s position on Astrolabe Reef means the Smit Borneo cannot get close enough to the port side for the crane to lift off some containers.
Yesterday, 10 containers were taken off by crane – the first day since Rena broke apart on 8 January that conditions have allowed containers to be removed. The forecast for ongoing removal remains good for the next few days at least.
Divers are still assessing the two sections of the vessel. Despite calm seas, dive conditions remain difficult because of the dark, sea surges and jagged steel. Tests are being carried out on the toxicity of water in the aft section, reflecting the fact that the safety of salvors is paramount. While small amounts of oil continue to leak from the vessel, the amount still in pockets is now estimated to be in the tens of tonnes, at most. The initial major spill leaked about 360 tonnes of oil.
The Braemar Howells recovery team continued work on several fronts today, in particular in the Waihi Beach and Bowentown Heads area.
At Waihi, plywood and MDF sheets have washed ashore, mostly in the surf club area but also up and down the beach. In the Bowentown Heads about 50 bags have been filled with latex gloves that washed ashore.
Divers plan to attach a line to a container at Anzac Bay in Bowentown so it can be winched ashore and unloaded before being cut up and removed.
Five badly damaged containers that had been retrieved while floating or beached were unloaded from a barge last night for disposal, bringing to 64 the number of containers handled by Braemar since the vessel broke apart.
Braemar is investigating three containers found on one of the sonar surveys of the seabed between the wreck and Motiti Island.
Debris is still being collected from White Island and Whale Island, using fast response craft and divers.
While significant numbers of dead birds were found yesterday and overnight, particularly in the Opotiki area, only one – found at Rabbit Island – had been oiled. About 50 have been sent to Massey for post-mortem to check whether they died from natural causes – as is common at this time of year for juvenile penguins – or some other reason.
Clean-up continued today at Mount Maunganui, Matakana, Leisure Island, Motiti Island and Waihi.
The boom inside Maketu Estuary has been removed, but the boom at the entrance to the estuary will remain in place.