Rena salvage teams reach milestone

Nov. 14, 2011 at 11:50 AM
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Salvage teams working on a container ship stranded off New Zealand's coast said they shifted from pumping oil to container recovery.

As much as 2,000 barrels of oil leaked from the cargo ship Rena after it struck a reef in the Bay of Plenty last month. There is a noticeable crack on the ship's starboard side and salvage teams with Maritime New Zealand had struggled to get oil out of a submerged fuel tank during high seas.

MNZ said salvage teams had stopped pumping operations from the submerged starboard tank after they started pumping sea water instead of oil from the ship. Authorities had pumped sea water into the tank to get the oil to rise to the surface.

"The salvors have reached the point in the tank where the oil and water meet," said MNZ manager Arthur Jobard. "They have suspended pumping to allow more oil to float to the surface and will resume pumping a bit later on today."

There were than 80 cargo containers on board Rena when it struck the reef in October and some were lost at sea. MNZ said operations were now focused on recovering the containers while they waited for residual oil to rise to the surface of the starboard tank.

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