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Rena Recovery Newsletter – Issue 8

Rena Recovery Newsletter – Issue 8

Happy New Year to all and here is the first update of 2013!

We have had many students working over the summer holidays collecting samples across the coastline. The Department of Conservation has reported that wildlife programmes are progressing well with no inconsistencies. Our monitoring team is shifting focus to Otaiti where they have confirmed elevated levels of contaminants. Also in this issue read about research into clean-up techniques and also an assessment of impact on mauri.
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Further sampling at Astrolabe Reef a priority for scientists
Further sampling is a priority for Rena Recovery scientists who have confirmed there are elevated levels of contaminants close to the Rena wreck on Otaiti.

The Rena Recovery monitoring team has recently gained greater access to the reef following over a year of dangerous salvage operations restricting access. The team is now working hard to determine the significance of the contaminants, including any impact on marine life around the reef, and the best approach to address those impacts.
University of Waikato Chair of Coastal Science, Professor Chris Battershill said that it had been expected that contaminants would be found at the ship wreck site and they are now working directly with the salvors to access the reef to collect more samples.
“Sediment samples have shown elevated levels of contaminants including copper and PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons) which are known contaminants that were lost to sea from the Rena and its cargo.
“While we only have limited sampling information at this point, early indications are that the contamination is localised,” Professor Battershill said.
Click here to read the full article

Assessing the best techniques to clean up oil
This is a key question being asked as part of Rena Recovery research.

When reports started coming in of a potential oil spill, the Maketū community pulled together to decide on a clean-up process and what technique to use if oil were to wash ashore.
More than 14 months later, those choices made in the early days are now being analysed and studied to be able to better understand what clean-up techniques have proved to be most effective in the New Zealand environment.

Researcher Tania Gaborit and science student Summa Newdick are assessing the effectiveness of the spill sorb product used to remove from the rocks at the Maketū estuary and out to Ōkurei.
The studies are testing how well the ecology around the rocks has recovered since being covered in oil and cleaned up by the spill sorb product. This programme will be brought together with research being undertaken at Mount Maunganui where different techniques were used, including hot-water washing and scraping.
All the field work is complete for the Maketū team and they are now working on pulling all the data results together and developing some experiments.
Pia Bennett, Environmental Officer for Ngāti Makino Iwi Authority in Maketū said that the work was a great exercise that would have long-term benefits.
“We are really thrilled to see this work being done. Most of all we are excited to see that the next generation of scientists are getting the opportunity to gain real world experience.
“Summa Newdick is connected to our iwi here in Maketu and while she is developing her science skills and providing valuable research for the programme, it is special that she is also practicing her role of kaitiakitanga (guardianship).”

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Understanding the impact on mauri
One Rena Recovery programme is assessing the impact the Rena grounding has had on mauri
As part of the Mātauranga Programme, Maketū iwi are carrying out an assessment of mauri, which is the life supporting capacity of an ecosystem (including its people) and including metaphysical attributes. The assessment will evaluate how the Rena grounding has had an effect on mauri.
Pia Bennett, Environmental Officer for Ngāti Makino Iwi Authority is leading this project which has required a huge amount of effort.
“It is not an easy process to assess mauri. Each area has its own identity and different iwi who are connected to that land.”
“We are doing an assessment focused on our land which is the Maketū region. Mauri is best measured only by mana Whenua (people of the land) of each area. While we are only able to assess a small region, our research will be shared with all iwi so everyone can learn from the process undertaken.”

Click here to read the full article

Dive survey assessment of the stern section and remaining cargo completed
An update from the Rena owners and insurers
A dive survey to conduct an external visual assessment of the Rena’s sunken stern section and its cargo has now been completed.

Early indications from the surveys suggest that of the 36 remaining containers in the stern section carrying known contaminants, many have broken up and their contents have escaped since the vessel broke in two and sank.

Three containers, with cargo intact, were recovered; four were retrieved but were empty; another seven were recovered in pieces; the contents of the remaining 22 are presumed lost at sea.

Captain John Owen of The Swedish Club said: “We have scientists from the Cawthron Institute working with the Rena Recovery Monitoring team to undertake further sampling and testing of water and sediment samples.

“This will then confirm possible solutions to remediate contaminated areas, currently known to be in close proximity to the wreck.”
Click here to read the full article


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