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Published: 2012-01-08 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council is working closely with Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) to monitor the movement of debris and oil from the broken cargo ship, Rena.

MNZ this morning confirmed the ship, which grounded on the Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga in October last year, had separated into two pieces following high seas overnight.

Since the Rena grounding the council has been working with MNZ, Thames-Coromandel District Council, Hauraki District Council and the Hauraki Maori Trust Board to coordinate a potential response in the Waikato region.

Regional on scene commander Adam Munro said extensive planning had been undertaken to prepare for the possibility of oil or shipping containers washing up on our coast.

“We have trained staff ready to respond if required and detailed plans in place which we have prepared with the assistance of MNZ, the salvors and the container recovery company.

“Conditions are extremely changeable, but there is a possibility that debris and oil from the vessel might impact the eastern seaboard of the Coromandel Peninsula, north of Waihi.

“Members of the public, and in particular boaties, are reminded to take extra care and to report any sightings of oil or debris to the MNZ oil spill hotline,” Mr Munro said.

MNZ said this afternoon that preliminary trajectory modelling predicts any oil released will come ashore around midnight tonight, landing on beaches south east of Mt Maunganui.

Members of the public who see oil or shipping container debris should call freephone 0800 OIL SPILL (0800 645 774). Provide the on-shore location by noting the nearest street or beach access, or GPS coordinates if on the water.

The contents of the shipping containers remain the property of the owner at all times, whether on shore or in the water.

Boaties are warned to be aware of partially submerged shipping containers or debris. Boat owners should stay well clear of oiled areas, and of any vessel involved in the oil spill response.

Members of the public are reminded not to handle, move or clean oiled wildlife, but to instead call freephone 0800 333 771. Provide the location, animal species and numbers of any oiled animals.