Rena update (#211)
Waikato Regional Council staff have this morning checked Coromandel Beaches between Whiritoa and Whitianga, but have so far reported no sign of oil or debris coming ashore.
MNZ / Oil spill response
- However, they will continue to monitor these areas over the coming days and supported by MNZ, have equipment and people on standby to assist with clean up operations should they be required.
- While there have been no public reports of oil coming ashore in the Bay of Plenty or Coromandel overnight, National On Scene Commander Rob Service said rough sea conditions and strong winds could still see oil and debris being washed ashore over the coming days. He warned that people should exercise caution if using the beach, and please report any oil sightings to 0800 645 774, while any container debris should be reported to 0800 333 771.
- 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.
- There have been no reports of any wildlife being affected, but the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team based at Massey University has been alerted and can respond to any reports as needed. The Department of Conservation has also been alerted.
- Oil response teams remain on standby to respond to any oil that may come ashore.
- Salvors report the aft section of the wreck being subject to rolling movement in yesterday’s rough seas, which saw waves of 8-10m hitting the vessel. It is estimated that 11 containers (both 20 and 40ft) have been lost into the sea, however, extremely rough sea conditions are making it difficult to accurately assess numbers.
- With the movement of the aft section on the reef, it appears that the bridge section of the wreck is now completely submerged. However, rough seas make it difficult to determine the extent of the movement.
- The weather forecast at Astrolabe today is for winds of 27 knots (50km/h) and a maximum estimated wave height of 5.5m. The weather conditions are forecast to gradually ease, though winds will remain strong and the sea is expected to remain rough for several days.
- The ongoing rough weather may result in more containers potentially being lost, as well as more pockets of oil being released from the vessel.
- Rough weather and sea conditions continue to hamper salvage and container recovery operations, with the crane barge Smit Borneo remaining in port until the weather eases sufficiently to allow safe operations.
- Salvors plan to carry out an overflight of the wreck early this afternoon to further assess the condition of the wreck.
- Monitoring flights organised by Braemar Howells continue today after huge swells pounded the wreck yesterday. A plane is currently out surveying the ocean to ascertain how much debris went overboard and what direction it is heading. Indications are the debris trail is heading west toward Matakana Island and Waihi Beach.
- Braemar / Unimar vessels – including fast response and tug boats – are on standby monitoring the seas which remain rough this morning. Divers are also ready when needed.
- Hubs, which are mini co-ordination centres for debris collection, have been alerted up the coastline.
- Braemar Howells remains at a high state of preparedness, with well-tested marine and shoreline response plans in place.
- Beach teams remain on standby at Waihi Beach and Bowentown and are ready to swing into action if needed.
- Strong winds and rough sea conditions however continue to impact on on-water debris recovery operations, with conditions currently too rough for vessels to operate.
- The Bay of Plenty regional harbour master advises that shipping lanes are being monitored for debris, but are currently clear.
- A 2NM exclusion zone remains in place for the Astrolabe reef, and navigational warnings continue to remain in force.
There will not be another media update until tomorrow (Thursday) at around 10.30am, unless the situation changes significantly before then.
MNZ will be making images from this afternoon’s Rena flight available to media later today.