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Rena update (#222)

8 June 2012 - 12.00pm

Relatively calm weather conditions at the beginning of the week allowed good progress to be made on the Rena salvage activities before strong winds later in the week.

  • Working conditions for divers, however, were described as very challenging with congealed milk fat floating on the sea making surfaces very greasy.
  • Containers Smit Borneo’s crane could not reach were removed by the heavy lift helicopter.
  • Containers lodged underwater on the starboard side of the fore section are described as being very difficult to remove.
  • It was evident that the fore section was subject to much more movement, with the whole structure appearing to be in motion as a result of the impact of the swell.
  • The majority of No 3 hold has gone completely, parts of it having been removed by gas cutting with the remainder collapsing due to the swell.
  • All hatch lids have been removed from it.
  • In general, the fore section continues to deteriorate as a result of continuing bad weather.
Container and debris recovery
  • The Braemar team is finalising preparations for final phase of underwater container recovery plan – the lifting and recovery of a number of containers from the seabed.
  • The Braemar/Unimar team says that weather permitting, it hopes to begin retrieving containers in about a week’s time.
  • Operations Manager Neil Lloyd says that big seas have caused delays, but the team’s divers have managed to pre-rig more than half a dozen containers in relatively shallow water, so that work can begin on hoisting them to the surface as soon as sea conditions are calm enough.
  • He says that it’s highly satisfying for Braemar and the Rena owners to reach this point after eight months of concerted efforts, including sidescan sonar surveys of a large area of the Bay of Plenty coast, to pinpoint the location of containers.
  • Neil Lloyd says the coastal area was broken down into a number of sections and methodically grid-searched in what has been an often difficult and painstaking process, hampered by weather conditions. An ROV (remote vehicle) has been used to help investigate the targets, some of which have been eliminated on close inspection.
  • The lifting operation will basically involve rigging the containers with slings and lifting them onto the barge ST 60 before bringing them ashore for processing. “But even now the sonar-equipped vessel is continuing to search for more containers on the seabed,” Mr Lloyd says.
  • Shore cleanup operations are also continuing on local islands and beaches, especially on the Coromandel at places such as Sailor’s Grave. Some pieces of container have also been recovered from Waihi Beach.
  • The number of containers recovered and brought ashore stands at 932. Excellent progress has been made at the wreck site over recent weeks with over 100 containers recovered.
Oil spill response
  • Members of the public are encouraged to keep reporting any sightings of oil to the oil spill response hotline on 0800 OIL SPILL (0800 645 774).
  • The oil spill response has been reduced from a Tier 3, or national level, to Tier 2, or regional level, response. Any queries about the oil spill response should now be directed to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

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

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