A bigger barge with bigger cranes is expected to arrive in the Bay of Plenty in early December to assist with salvage of the Rena’s container cargo, says Associate Transport Minister Nathan Guy.
The Smit Borneo is 110m by 32m and has onboard a pedestal crane, a large secondary tracked crane, and its own accommodation.
This barge, the Smit Borneo, is en route to assist in the unloading of containers from Rena – grounded on the Astrolabe Reef since October 5.
The multi purpose barge is en route from Singapore under tow.
Meanwhile, salvors onboard Rena at Astrolabe Reef are continuing to pump the remaining pocket of heavy fuel oil from he ship’s starboard five wing tank.
An air pocket issue that stopped pumping fuel for about 24 hours resolved itself last night and has not yet reappeared.
As at 2.45pm, 54 tonnes had been pumped out from a tank containing an estimated 358 tonnes of heavy fuel oil – about the same amount that washed onto Western Bay beaches in mid October and is still being cleaned up.
Maritime New Zealand salvage consultant Jon Walker says the pumping rate is about 2.5 tonnes per hour, meaning that the last of the Rena’s fuel could be removed in about a week – if there are no further pumping issues and the weather holds.
Pumping resumed after an additional pump was installed on the line, says Jon.
“What they are trying to do now is increase the flow into this particular pump. They might put another hot tap into the tank or additional pumps online.”
A hot tap is a way of drilling into a tank without losing the contents.
Now that pumping is resumed, they are not intending to stop, says Jon.
The remaining 20 tonnes of lubrication oil onboard Rena is also being pumped off the ship into deck tanks onboard the tug Go Canopus.
While salvors are preparing to remove the Rena’s containers, they will not be starting until the fuel oil and lubrication oil transfers from the wreck have been completed.
MNZ national on scene commander Rob Service says it’s been three weeks since there was any significant discharge of oil from Rena.
They are continuing to find oil resurfacing on the ocean beach from Mount Maunganui to Maketu.
On Wednesday there were 123 volunteers working with the sand/surf washing trails at Papamoa.
It is a technique where contaminated sand is dropped by digger into the surf and the oil collected.
Patrols on Wednesday night found five oiled little blue penguins, which have joined the population at the oiled wild life centre. There are now 407 birds under care.