Expect the worst says Rena salvor

Posted: 10/20/2011 in all marine news

SMH – 

People should expect the worst as the broken and bleeding ship Rena could break up and disgorge its oil into the waters off New Zealand, the ship’s salvor warns.

The 47,000-tonne cargo ship ran onto the Astrolabe reef off the Tauranga coast 12 days ago, and has spilled dozens of containers and hundreds of tonnes of fuel oil into the sea.

Salvors braved the dangers on Sunday night to begin pumping off some of the estimated 1300 tonnes of oil left aboard.

By Monday morning they had moved 21 tonnes, disappointing those who had hoped for more rapid progress.

The job has been likened to pumping sticky Marmite through a 150m hose.

Salvage company Svitzer’s spokesman Matt Watson told Radio New Zealand a booster pump could increase the rate but it would be a steady, not spectacular process.

“It literally is a suck-and-see approach… You don’t just hit full throttle and start getting oil off, it’s a gradual build up process,” Mr Watson said.

He warned people should expect the worst and the Rena could break up in rough weather, potentially spilling the entire load into the sea.

“That ship is very, very sick. She is fractured, she is broken, she is on her knees.”

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