Renas Oil is Removed--Now What About All Those Containers?
Salvage crews working tirelessly for the past six weeks on the grounded Rena cargo ship have successfully pumped the remaining oil from the ship (1,454-tons), averting further environmental devastation to the marine ecosystem. Although it is a monumental moment in the salvage operation on the Astrolabe Reef, the teams now have to contend with the removal of countless containers still aboard the listing ship, as well as attempting to retrieve containers that have littered the sea.
New Zealand officials have hailed the work of the salvage teams after all but a trace of oil were removed from Rena since October 5. While the oil spill was very substantial, officials had feared for the worst during the heavy seas that blasted against the cracking, listing ship. The 47,000-ton Rena has miraculously managed to stay intact, and the salvors pumped tons of fuel off the ship since the initial spill which heavily polluted beaches and damaged local wildlife. They pumped the heavy fuel oil from Rena’s tanks onto an adjoining tanker, moving all of the oil away from potential spillage. It is a true triumph of determination from the salvage teams to remove the oil and prevent further damage amid the heavy weather conditions and high danger mission.
There is not much time to celebrate, though, as the salvage teams are planning their next mission: removing the cargo containers. A crane barge is being brought into position to begin the complicated task of the precarious containers. Maritime New Zealand projects that the risky operation will take several months, during which the Rena could still face a break up. MNZ said that if they are able to remove 6 containers per day from the Rena, it will take 7 months to recover all cargo.
Head of the salvage unit, Arthur Jobard, told the Guardian that the teams are taking this time to make sure all equipment and systems are ready and working efficiently before commencing the operation, in addition to waiting on calm weather to make the crane operating less dangerous. Jobard stated that once the testing has been successfully completed, the salvors will lower men down in a cage to ready the containers for removal.
Even though the mission is not close to over, New Zealand rejoices over the salvage work that has been achieved, and as their affected beaches are slighted to open later in the week due to successful shore cleanups.