Rena disaster command centre moves

By Michele McPherson


The centre of the Rena operation has been downsized and moved to Greerton after four months operating from Tauranga's former Foodtown supermarket.

About 25 people, with roles including planning, logistics, salvage, wildlife, administration and finance, are now managing the clean-up and salvage operations from the new Incident Command Centre (ICC) in Glenlyon Ave.

Maritime New Zealand spokesperson Ross Henderson said the new ICC had office space at the front and a large warehouse at the back, providing the response team with the ability to scale-up if required.

"It is not clear at this stage how long the ICC will need to keep operating but the oil spill response team will continue to assess, clean and re-clean the beaches as long as required and the ICC will be there to provide all the support functions for that clean-up operation," he said.

At the operation's peak about 300 people were working from the ICC, including defence force personnel, police and fire and Department of Conservation staff and a range of other central government agencies.

"A number of people from overseas agencies and organisations have also been involved throughout the response," Mr Henderson said.

Meanwhile offshore, 463 containers have now been recovered from Rena and taken to the Port of Tauranga and another 65 have been recovered from the beaches and sea.

This week salvors removed four packets of wood from the Rena wreck via helicopter and are focusing on the ongoing container and debris removal from the forward section of the ship.

Two 40-foot containers and one 20-foot container were cut up and removed from the wreck while salvors emptied containers of leather skins by hand.

Container recovery company Braemer Howells is placing its main focus on Matakana Island, where helicopter and barge operations continue to remove timber, bits of container and other debris and Orokawa Bay, just north of Waihi Beach.

Timber was stacked and towed to a waiting barge at Orokawa Bay on Tuesday and the container will be cut up and removed.

Shore clean-up assessment teams surveyed beaches from Mount Maunganui to Papamoa East on Tuesday but found no significant oiling and yesterday were assessing the beaches stretch of coastline from Papamoa East to the Kaituna Cut.

The results from these surveys are fed into the planning process and guide the clean-up teams.

Oil spill response clean-up teams are for now focusing on Matakana Island, Mount Maunganui and Leisure Island, with about 65 people working in the field today. Oiled wildlife response teams were checking wildlife on Motiti Island yesterday.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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