Rena oil spill: marine reserve threatened

A sheen of oil can be seen having leaked from the Rena overnight Saturday/Sunday. Photo / Maritime New Zealand
A sheen of oil can be seen having leaked from the Rena overnight Saturday/Sunday. Photo / Maritime New Zealand

A team of wildlife experts spent last night on Mayor Island as freshly leaked oil from the crippled Rena made its way towards the renowned Bay of Plenty marine reserve.

The five to 10 tonnes of oil that escaped from the ship was thinly spread around it yesterday and was expected to be pushed north towards the island.

Home to numerous seabirds, including rare and endangered species, Mayor Island is a "hot spot for biodiversity", wildlife veterinarian Helen McConnell said.

Three wildlife responders and an iwi representative arrived on the island yesterday afternoon to undertake surveys and capture any oiled wildlife.

The number of recovered creatures had risen to 357, with a further 1370 dead.

Meanwhile, salvors managed to offload 140 tonnes of oil from the port-side number 5 tank over a 24-hour period, boosting the total amount removed by late yesterday to 481 tonnes.

The rate of oil being pumped off had increased to about seven tonnes an hour after a three-inch-diameter hose was replaced with a wider six-inch hose.

A dive team had made its way through murky water within a corridor in the vessel to find the submerged starboard number 5 tank, which has not been breached and holds about 356 tonnes of oil.

- APNZ

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