IMAGES: Stern section of Rena sinks in rough seas; more oil spilling

News from Maritime NZ
The aft section of the Rena has now sunk due to ongoing rough seas pounding the weakened structure. This was confirmed during a second overflight of the vessel about 4pm yesterday. (Today’s photos by Maritime NZ.)

The Bay of Plenty and Coromandel communities are advised that the sinking of the stern section will likely result in the loss of more debris and small amounts of oil into the sea, which may then come ashore. It is important to note that the amount of oil released from the wreck is only a tiny percentage of the oil released in the big spill in October.

A light sheen of oil has been observed stretching for about 1km north-west of the wreck.

The forward section of the vessel is holding on the reef, but has suffered further damage to its rear section. A wave of over 12m was recorded at the reef overnight, with winds of 27 knots (50km/h) and seas of 8-9m experienced today.

MNZ’s oil spill response team and specialist container recovery teams and vessels from Braemar Howells remain on alert to respond to any reports of further oil or debris coming ashore. Strong winds and rough seas however continue to impact on on-water debris recovery operations. These will resume as soon as it is safe to do so. A team from Waikato Regional Council is remaining in the Coromandel to respond should oil come ashore there.

Rena: April 3 2012

News from Maritime NZ – April 4
The oil spill response team yesterday confirmed a small amount of oil was leaking from the wreck of the Rena. It was impossible to confirm how much this was. However, the total amount of oil left on Rena is in the tens of tonnes, in pockets around the wreck. It is unlikely all of this would be released in one event. (Yesterday’s photo from Maritime NZ.)

Trajectory modelling shows that if this small amount of oil does reach the shoreline, it could reach the Coromandel overnight. This would be expected to take the form of areas with a very light sprinkling of oil on shorelines between Whiritoa and Whitianga.

It is important to note that the amount of oil released from the wreck is only a tiny percentage of the oil we saw released in the big spill in October. It is unlikely to have a significant impact – however, it is important people are aware there could be some oil on their beaches over the next few days.

If members of the public do get oil on their skin, it should be washed off with soap and water. Baby oil or olive oil is also useful for removing it.

Working as part of the Rena response team, personnel from the Waikato Regional Council have been mobilised and they will check the potentially affected shorelines to assess whether any oil has come ashore, and mount whatever response is required.

It is unlikely the level of oil we expect to see will have any impact on wildlife. However, the Massey wildlife team is ready to deal with any affected wildlife if needed.

Members of the public are encouraged to call the 0800 OIL SPILL (0800 645 774) hotline to report any sightings of oil.

Press Release from Maritime NZ – April 3
Heavy swells hitting the wreck of the cargo ship Rena have resulted in further containers being released from a hold in the bow section. The Astrolabe Reef is currently being hit with swells of up to 7m, with the heavy seas forecast to persist through the night, and ease tomorrow.

MNZ Tauranga Response and Recovery Manager David Billington said an observation flight this afternoon had confirmed the swells had forced a hatch cover off the number 3 hold in the bow section, and an estimated 10 containers had been released from the same hold. One of these containers was seen floating near the wreck. It is possible the others have sunk to the seabed.

Mr Billington said no salvage operations could take place during the rough weather, but the salvage and container recovery teams were monitoring the situation and had contingency plans in place to respond as soon as weather conditions allowed. He advised any boaties out on the water in the Bay of Plenty to take extra care and to observe the 2 nautical mile exclusion zone around the wreck site. “There is debris in the water and this could cause damage if it comes into contact with your boat. Keep a really good lookout, and travel at a safe speed,” he said.

Anyone who sees containers or debris is encouraged to report it to the Braemar Howells recovery team on 0800 333 771.

Maritime NZ Press release – 26 March
The crane barge Smit Borneo is now secured on the starboard side of the wreck to recommence salvage operations. Divers are in the water assisting with the recovery of debris from the seabed.

Svitzer salvors have removed two hatch lids from the seabed near the stern section of Rena. These hatch covers were landed them on the barge Pohunui and transported to the port.

The McDermott heavy lift helicopter successfully removed two more full stillages (or small containers) of oily debris from the No.2 hold yesterday. Salvors are continuing to assess the damage caused to the wreck by Wednesday’s heavy weather event.

It has been established that eight containers were washed overboard. One floating container was located by Braemar Howells at sea, however it sunk in 20 metres of water. The container has had a buoy attached for recovery. The other seven are presumed to have sunk. Ongoing sonar work will continue around the wreck site to locate lost containers.

There is no change to containers processed ashore since Friday’s figures – 649 containers recovered on shore in total, made up of 575 containers removed from Rena by salvors and 74 containers recovered from the sea or shoreline by Braemar Howells.

43 containers have been located away from Rena, but are yet to be recovered.