Salvage crews reached an important milestone yesterday as they pumped the last barrel of oil out of the stricken Rena. While residual oil will continue to be removed in the days ahead, salvage teams have shifted their attention to recovering containers. Voxy reports that crane barge Sea Tow 60, pictured above off the stern of the Rena, is testing equipment and should begin to remove the first of approximately 1300 containers within days.
The salvors are taking this time to make sure that all the equipment and systems are ready and working properly before commencing operations. They also need good, calm weather to operate effectively, with safety being the top priority. Once the testing has been successfully completed, the salvors will be lowering men down in a cage to ready the containers for removal. However, as we have seen with this entire operation so far, the speed at which the salvage team can work depends on many different factors. This includes weather and how complex it proves to be to access the containers, many of which are badly damaged and in very precarious positions… it is impossible to predict exactly how long it will take to safely remove all of the containers on board – but realistically, it is likely to take several months of patient and careful work.
A larger crane barge, Smit Borneo, is enroute from Singapore and should join Sea Two 60 by early December. Still, as Transport Minister Steven Joyce today told media: “There is still a long, hard road ahead.” Stuff reports the current salvage bill hovers around $12 million
Bay of Plenty beaches remain closed, although the risk of a catastrophic oil spill has, according to National On Scene Commander Rob Service, gotten “closer to the point where the risk of another significant spill from Rena is gone.” That is a good thing because the whole world is watching.