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Reports Rena has broken up 'false' - Maritime NZ

Tuesday 25 Oct 2011 10:01 p.m.

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By Angela Beswick with NZN

Contrary to some reports this evening, the stricken container ship Rena has not broken up.

Various reports suggested the Rena had broken in two and tugboats were rushing to the scene.

3 News have contacted Maritime New Zealand, the Coastguard and Svitzer salvors who say the Rena is still sitting on the Astrolabe Reef where it ran aground on October 5 and has definitely not broken apart.

Meanwhile the salvage team says it is pumping oil at its fastest rate yet.

In the last 24 hours, 164 tonnes of heavy fuel oil has been pumped from Rena onto the barge Awanuia.

This means 645 of the 1370 tonnes thought to be left on the ship, or 47 per cent, has been pumped.

Environment Minister Nick Smith says the pumping rate in the last 24 hours is the most in a day since pumping first began.

"It's encouraging, but we are not out of the woods."

About 350 tonnes is still unaccounted for, most of which is thought to have leaked into the sea, Maritime New Zealand salvage unit manager Bruce Anderson says.

Of the 725 tonnes remaining on the ship, 127 tonnes are in the ship's port five tank, 228 tonnes are in the settling tanks in the engine room and 358 tonnes are in the starboard five tank.

"The Herculean task before Maritime New Zealand and the salvage team is getting that 358 tonnes of oil out of starboard tanks," Dr Smith said.

The latest oil leak of note from Rena was on Saturday with MNZ national on scene commander Rob Service on Tuesday saying this oil is heading north.

It could wash up on Mayor Island and trajectory modelling shows it could reach Whangamata in the Coromandel.

"It will be broken down and broken up and once it arrives there and we can expect it to be in small patties," Mr Service said.

MetService says weather conditions are expected to remain calm and clear in the region until Thursday.

Wildlife experts have been sent to Mayor Island to help manage 10 tonnes of oil from the grounded Rena expected to wash up on the wildlife sanctuary's coastline.

Builders are racing to finish aviaries for the long-term care of hundreds of little blue penguins rescued following the oil spill.

Nearly 1400 birds have been found dead since the Rena ran aground on October 5.

3 News / NZN

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