Latest reports state the Rena is predicted to breakup as conditions worsen. Weather forecasts have swells growing from 3 meters up to 5 meters. Salvage teams have also reported further buckling of the hull along the submerged starboard side just forward of the bridge.
Salvage teams are preparing for the worst. Tracking sensors are being attached to containers with additional tugs are ready to be deployed to recover any containers that fall into the sea. The tug Go Canopus is to stand by if the Rena breaks up. The Go Canopus would tow the stern to shallower water to allow futher oil removal.
Another Oil Spill?
Over 1000 tons of oil has been pumped off the Rena by the salvage team. However, this leaves about 360 tons to be removed from the submerged starboard No. 5 tank. Pumping operations stopped when heavy swells made it to dangerous to continue. Salvors were nearing completion of a cofferdam to access the the submerged tank. Reports state the salvage team sealed the tanks and air vents in case the Rena broke up. If the starboard tank maintains integrity, the risk should be minimal. However, if the tank ruptures, it could double the total oil spilled to 700 tons. Some oil sheen is expected as some oil trapped from duct keel is released. Rough seas are expected to dispurse some of the pollution.
The 133 meter long, 8015 dwt container ship Schelde Trader went aground near the entrance to Tauranga, New Zealand. The Schelde Trader was departing Tauranga when it suffered a power failure and lost steering. The current then carried the disabled vessel onto the rocks. Reports state the damage was slight and the vessel was refloated and taken back to harbour by the tug Te Matua. No reports of injuries or pollution being released. The Schelde Trader will be inspected and officials have stated there will be an investigation into the incident. The Schelde Trader had stopped in Tauranga to refuel and was headed to Noumea, New Caledonia. The grounding of the Schelde Trader is less than a month after the container ship Rena hit the Astrolabe Reef off the Tauranga coast.
Over 800 tons of oil has been removed from the Rena as the salvage team completed pumping out the port number five tank. The remaining 600 tons are located in other four other tanks. The starboard number 5 tank is submerged will be much more difficult task. The salvage team needs to reach an underwater manhole access hatch in pitch black conditions with everything disoriented due to the heavy list. The team is trying to dam off the section and pump out the water around it to gain access. The starboard number 5 tank has 350 tons of oil to be removed. In addition, there are three other tanks in the engine room holding a combined 250 tons of oil still to go. Salvors are also attempting to pump out oil from the settling tanks. The remaining amount of oil in the settling tanks is not known but estimates place it under 100 tons.
The heavy crane vessel Pancaldo has arrived on scene and has removed some containers from the sea floor. The Pancaldo will begin salvage operations and removal of containers off the deck of the Rena when oil removal has completed. In addition, the vessel Brandy Wine is also being used in recovery of containers. The Brandy Wine has already remove containers from Motiti Island.
Reports state over 808 tons of waste has been collected so far by over 6,700 people. The cleanup effort has been split between cleaning up oil and the pollution resulting from the contents of the containers. Reports state the cleanup process will continue as several beaches that get re-oiled and re-cleaned daily. Officials have ended the need for volunteers to register to help with cleanup efforts. They have requested that volunteers to just turn up. More than 1300 oiled birds have died with another 885 being treated at wildlife facilities. Officials have added six enclosures specialized for penguins. Currently, there are over 300 penguins being housed at Te Maunga.