Rena response (update 5)

10 October 2011: 1.30pm

This release includes the latest information available.

Public Health Warning:

  • Oil has now been found on the beach near Tay St, in Tauranga. It is in individual clumps of about fist-sized patties about 5mm high and stranded on the tide line about every 700 to 800mm apart.
  • People should not touch or attempt to clean up oil as it is toxic. If people see oil coming ashore please call the spill number 0800 645 774.
  • A public health warning has been issued. No shellfish or fin fish should be eaten from waters with visible oil contamination.

 

Messages for the public:

  • Please stay away from the water.
  • Public Health is erecting signs on the beach warning people to stay away.
  • Do NOT touch anything with oil on it - it is toxic and should not be in contact with skin. 
  • Do NOT take shellfish to eat. Avoid touching or collecting shellfish in any affected areas or have a have petrol-like, smell.
  • If you accidently come into contact with the oil wash with soap and water, baby oil or petroleum jelly.
  • Do not use solvents, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel or similar products on your skin.
  • If you get the oil in your eyes, rinse with water for 15 minutes.
  • Breathing in the vapour can cause irritation in mouth, nose throat and lungs. Move out of the area as quickly as possible.

 

Environmental team:

  • We have received a confirmed report of oil on a Mount Maunganui beach. We have a Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team on the beach responding. People are requested to keep off the beach as this is a public health risk.
  • We are getting other reports of oil on beaches. Some of this will be seaweed but we will investigate these reports. There has been a report of oil at the Maketu estuary but this has been investigated and turned out to be dark-coloured sand.
  • We are working fast to organise teams for shoreline clean up and assessment teams have been on Matakana and Pāpāmoa beaches, the islands and Maketū and Little Waihī estuaries.
  • Within the next 24 hours we are expecting oil to wash up on the shoreline south of Mount Maunganui at Papamoa but we don’t know how much.

Salvage:

  • Awanuia is currently alongside Rena and preparations are underway to transfer oil from Rena to the Awanuia, weather permitting.
  • Pumping from the Rena to the bunker barge Awanuia began around 8.30pm last night and approximately 10 tonnes of oil was successfully transferred to tanks on board the Awanuia before the weather turned and the work was suspended.
  • One of the tanks containing oil has a platform in it which means the salvage team have to climb inside the tank and manually place the pumping equipment inside rather than lowering it in. This will take a little longer than planned.
  • All vents on the ship are now sealed to prevent oil escaping.
  • As a precautionary measure, containers are being lashed more tightly to ensure the safety of the ship.
  • The weather is expected to deteriorate further today. Seas are moderate but they will become rough later, there will be poor visibility and we are expecting showers.
  • Salvage experts and naval architects on board are very closely monitoring the ship and have got sensors in place that will provide advance warning if the vessel’s structure is coming under too much stress.

 

Operations:

  • On-water recovery is out of the question at the moment due to the weather conditions but we are ready for any operations needed in the harbour. We do not want oil in the harbour but we are planning ahead.

 

Wildlife:

  • We have 14 teams working on assisting wildlife.
  • A team has inspected Rabbit Island which is home to petrels and other wildlife.
  • Nine birds have been recovered, seven little blue penguins and two shags.
  • Wildlife response teams are on the beaches today checking for oiled wildlife.  
  • Members of the public who see a seal should keep at least five metres distance from it for the safety and welfare of both parties and report it to the 0800 333 771 number for the wildlife team to follow up.
  • Many reports of seals have been received and the seals are being checked.  Wet seals are easily mistaken for oiled ones and healthy seals will be left on the beach.
  • People should avoid walking dogs on the beach. If dogs or other domestic animals do get oiled, please call the wildlife response team for assistance on 0800 333 771.

 

Defence Force:

  • HMNZS Taupō is now patrolling the exclusion zone, and Manawanui and Rotoiti are alongside the wharf in Tauranga.
  • There is an air evacuation plan in place to take people safely off the Rena if necessary.

 

Volunteers:

  • We are grateful to all those people who have called the freephone numbers offering advice, resources and assistance. We are recording all your calls and we will contact you to follow up. If you do not hear from us immediately please do not think we don’t value your offer. We will get back to you as soon as we practically can.
  • To register as a volunteer please call 0800 645 774.

For further information contact:
Maritime New Zealand Media Line
Phone 04 499 7318


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