06 October 2011: 3.30pm
Today the Director of Maritime New Zealand, Catherine Taylor, has issued the owner of the cargo vessel Rena with two notices under section 248 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994.
The Director considers that Rena is a hazardous ship and she instructed those responsible for the ship to ensure that a reputable salvor be appointed promptly and to keep MNZ informed of all salvage operations. This does not put MNZ in charge of the salvage but gives MNZ the ability to take control if MNZ deems it necessary.
The Director’s instructions to the vessel owner also include that they must comply with the directions of the National On Scene Commander (NOSC) and permit him to carry out any inspections necessary to determine what steps need to be taken to control or clean up the area.
They must also establish clear and regular lines of communication with MNZ with regard to the salvage operation both before a plan is put into action and once the operation is underway.
The vessel owner subsequently appointed the salvage company Svitzer to manage the salvage operation.
NOSC Rob Service said Svitzer was an internationally recognised and respected company with extensive experience in this type of operation. They already have representatives on board the vessel.
Mr Service said Rena is still leaking oil. The leak is intermittent and appears to be coming from damaged pipework on the vessel.
“We are not aware of any actual breaches in the fuel tanks. However, because of the extensive damage to the vessel, it is difficult to determine accurately what the scale and scope of the damage is. The crew are working to prevent further leakage.”
It still unknown what quantity of oil has spilled from the ship.
The slick is running from the ship in a northerly direction for about 5 kilometres. Another observation flight later this afternoon will assess exactly the direction of the oil slick.
Mr Service said dispersant field testing was going well.
“We have had one vessel doing on-water dispersant testing today and one helicopter doing aerial testing, with an observation plane guiding the helicopter and monitoring the effectiveness of the dispersant.
“Reports are that it is going well. We will review the results from the trials later today, with a view to launching a full dispersant operation tomorrow morning.”
The dispersant being used is Corexit 9500. Dispersants work by diluting oil through the water and assisting the natural breakdown process.
A full wildlife response has been activated, following the discovery of four dead birds in the water near the slick this afternoon.
Mr Service said the wildlife response team, made up of Massey University wildlife experts, local Department of Conservation staff, ornithologists and trained local responders, were setting up two wildlife centres in Tauranga and on Motiti Island.
A team of expert responders and ornithologists, with experience in the capture and treatment of oiled birds, would be undertaking beach searches on Motiti Island and the Maketu Peninsula tomorrow morning.
Please see incident page for more information, questions and answers, fly-over images of the site and information on New Zealand’s oil spill response system.
For further information please call the MNZ Media line on 04 499 7318 or Bay of Plenty Regional Council Community Relations Manager Bronwyn Campbell on 021 287 9380.
Updates will be provided as new information comes to hand.
For further information contact:
Maritime New Zealand Media Line
Phone 04 499 7318