A giant milestone has been reached in the battle to protect the Bay’s environment from oil leaking out of the Rena. The Bay of Plenty Times reports
Maritime New Zealand has announced that the oil pollution threat from the wreck is now so low that it has scaled down the emergency and handed over responsibility to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
National on-scene commander Rob Service said reducing the oil spill response from a national to regional level was a milestone and testimony to months of hard work. “This has been an amazing effort,” he said.
The decision to downgrade the Rena from a national level oil emergency was taken after the wreck was assessed as having a minimal oil spill threat, leaving the regional council as the agency responsible for monitoring spills and future clean-ups.
Mr Service said oil levels in previously affected areas were now so low that clean-ups were not warranted. Public sightings of oil in recent months had been consistently low.
The previously massive effort had been scaled down to the point where only a few oil spill response teams were still surveying affected areas.
He emphasised the response had been scaled down, not stopped. “It is a real achievement to reach this point.”
At the height of the crisis, international experts were assisting Maritime NZ to cope with the oil spilling out of the Rena.
Many local volunteers cleaned up the beaches they loved, helped by hundreds of army personnel. Iwi and other local councils also played significant roles in the clean-up.
Meanwhile, salvors had this week focused on cutting up hatch covers and removing them from the wreck.
Fine weather had allowed divers to remove debris from the sea bed around the stern section of the wreck.
The contents of containers continued to be removed using a heavy-lift helicopter. A total of 769 containers had been brought ashore, leaving about 200 in the bow section of Rena and 358 in the aft section or on the seabed.
A grid survey was under way on Matakana Island‘s 23km of beaches as part of the plan to vacuum up the remaining plastic beads that washed up from Rena.
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- Delay sought in oil spill fraud sentencing (mysanantonio.com)
- Rena salvage operation continues (nzherald.co.nz)
- ‘Poor Decisions’ Drove Rena Aground – Tauranga Mayor (ibtimes.com)
- Rena debris washes up on Coromandel shores (nzherald.co.nz)
- Reef ship pair plead guilty in NZ (bbc.co.uk)
- Rena-costs fight heads for court (nzherald.co.nz)
- First ‘Microsubmarines’ Designed to Help Clean Up Oil Spills (InnovationToronto.com)