Exclusion zone extended around leaking cargo ship, Rena

The Liberian-flagged container ship MV Rena is stuck hard aground on a reef 12 nautical miles off the coast of Tauranga.
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In New Zealand, the Bay of Plenty Regional Harbour Master has extended the exclusion zone around the grounded cargo ship Rena to 1.5 nautical miles, as oil and other substances continue to leak from the grounded vessel.

The increase to 1.5 nautical miles (approximately 2.8 kilometres) was requested by the National On-Scene Commander to ensure response teams have clear access to the stranded vessel.

This situation is expected to continue for some time and the exclusion zone is being monitored. Dispersants were again being tested on the oil leaking from the ship but the sea swells could make it difficult for those to work.

Anyone found breaching the exclusion zone could face a fine of up to $20,000.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council reiterates the previous boating advisory issued by Maritime New Zealand, and reminds boat owners that the fuel oil that has escaped from the container ship Rena may stick to boat hulls and gear and will need to be cleaned off in a controlled environment.

If people do find oil on their boats, they are advised to take the boat and trailer to a self-service car wash that is designed to cope with oil and other pollutants. Alternatively, owners can use a de-greaser or detergent to wash their boats, provided the run off cannot reach streams and watercourses or drains that take storm water off footpaths and roads.

The grounded ship Rena has been evacuated as a precaution against rough weather. The vessel's crew made a mayday call on Tuesday morning as a precaution to 'expedite' their evacuation, according to MNZ.

They were taken to nearby Motiti Island by boat and will return to the ship when conditions improved.

MNZ says the Rena has sustained additional damage from its ocean movements, and this morning its list improved from 11 degrees to about six degrees.

It's believed the rock pinnacle the ship was resting on has been crushed, and although the ship remains intact, it is moving around in the rough weather, with swells up to four metres and winds reaching 46km/h.

Oil is continuing to pour south from the vessel, with an estimated 130 to 350 tonnes having spilled into Bay of Plenty waters.

MNZ says it is 'inevitable' oil will reach beaches from Mount Maunganui down to Maketu, and enter Tauranga Port.

It is also possible oil will reach the Maketu and Matakana estuaries. MNZ is monitoring the 11 dangerous goods containers on board the ship, which remained intact and lashed down.

About 100 beach clean-up personnel were at Mount Maunganui removing oil from the beach and two on-water recovery vessels are ready to pick up oil entering the harbour.