Aft Section Of Rena Sinks

Posted by Gold FM on 05/04/2012

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Maritime NZ and salvors report 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.

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 yesterday.

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.

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.

While weather conditions at the Astrolabe Reef are forecast to gradually ease, winds will remain strong and the sea is expected to remain rough for several days.

MNZ and the salvors, Svitzer, will continue to monitor and assess the condition of the wreck, and will attempt to undertake a closer inspection of the wreck when conditions allow.

Boat skippers and vessel masters are reminded to take extreme care, as the debris from the wreck poses a significant risk to shipping. A 2NM exclusion zone remains in place for the Astrolabe reef, and navigational warnings continue to remain in force.

The public is encouraged to report any oil or debris to the response team on the 0800 numbers below.