Crews Still Pumping Oil from Stranded Container Ship

Salvors have attached 35 underwater locator beacons to the containers considered most vulnerable to being lost overboard, and they expect 200 more beacons to arrive soon from the United States, Maritime New Zealand reported Nov. 7.

Salvage crews continue to pump oil from the Rena, the container ship that ran aground weeks ago on Astrolabe Reef off New Zealand's northeastern coast, which means the task of plucking hundreds of containers from her listing deck may begin soon. Salvors were preparing to begin pumping heavy fuel oil from the submerged number 5 starboard wing tank on Nov. 8, according to Maritime New Zealand's update that day. They had completed pumping used lubricating oil off the ship and had begun pumping clean lubricating oil directly into a tug moored alongside.

The agency said workers have attached 35 underwater locator beacons to the most vulnerable containers about the ship so they can be located and recovered if they are lost overboard. Another 200 beacons were en route to the salvage location from the United States as of Nov. 7.

Beach cleanup continues by NZ Defence Force personnel, trained oil spill responders, a group of trained personnel from Australia, and volunteers.

Work to remove the containers from the Rena will not begin until all of the oil has been removed from the ship, but the agency said a container barge conducted sea trials Nov. 7 to be prepared for that operation. Sonar searches of the ocean floor also are continuing to locate containers lost during an October storm. Associate Transport Minister Nathan Guy said Nov. 7 that the ship's condition continued to deteriorate. "At any time the circumstances could change, and that could be from weather factors or the structural state of the Rena," he said during a news conference.

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