Rena: High winds disrupt container removal

Photo / Maritime NZ
Photo / Maritime NZ

High winds disrupted efforts to remove containers from the Rena this afternoon but work is still making better progress than expected, with 31 containers now off the ship.

Maritime New Zealand salvage unit manager Kenny Crawford said salvors today removed a further eight containers from the ship, which grounded on the Astrolabe Reef near Tauranga last month with some 1280 containers on board.

The rate of removal has been much quicker than officials initially predicted, with initial estimates of three or four containers a day.

But Mr Crawford cautioned the operation was heavily dependent on good weather, with the removal of containers this afternoon halted by high winds.

"Weather is one of the major players in this operation," Mr Crawford said.

"Salvors are constantly monitoring weather conditions and container removal had to stop this afternoon as winds exceeded 24 knots."

Mr Crawford said a number of factors affected container salvage operations including the height, direction and period of swell, as well as the wind speed.

"Long, slow, deep swells can cause particular concern for salvors as any movement below is amplified at the top of the crane," he said.

Meanwhile, the exclusion zone around the ship will be reduced to three nautical miles from midnight.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council harbourmaster amended the exclusion zone with support from authorities.

Maritime New Zealand national on-scene commander Mick Courtnell reminded beachgoers to take care over the weekend.

"It's important people remember that the beaches are not the same as they were before Rena grounded. There is still residual oil in the sand and in the water, and people should take care."

Access restrictions put in place after oil washed ashore remained in place at Maketu Spit and on parts of Papamoa beach.

- APNZ

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