'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Rena oil clean: From a volunteer's log.

The potential team-leaders including my son met at Omanu Surf Club this morning for a training session:

This is the information they were given:
The main aim is to remove the oil from the beach, so that when high tide comes, the oil doesn't get washed away again.

Scooping up the oil with spades and rakes, putting it into bags, and taking the bags up to be disposed of.

Cold Zone
Up in the carpark

Warm Zone
In the decontamination area. This is where you sign in and out.

Hot Zone
On the beach with the oil. When you head back, you must sign out and get decontaminated.

Gearing up:

White jumpsuit, high-vis vest, gloves, gumboot covers.
You can be supplied with gumboots.

You will be supplied with lunch too.


- Scoop at a shallow angle so that you don't get lots of sand with the oil. Pick up seaweed if contaminated. Can pick up small bits with a stick or by hand. Pick up as you go so that you don't walk through the oil.

- Fill up the bags with the oil. Don't overfill them, we should have plenty of bags

- Tie them off at the top and take them back to the decontamination zone.

Information from the trainer (an Australian expert):
This oil will be here for years. There is still oil on the rocks from the 1996 Australian oil spill (Tasmania).

Comment from my son:
"It's crazy the amount of damage that can happen because of the error of one person. I was reading once about human speed limits. When we run, maybe we can get up to 20 kph: we can feel and judge how fast we are going. Our lungs are pumping, the wind is blowing past our face. But as soon as we get into a car, we lose all indications of the speed, so we don't make good judgements. Our bodies don't understand our fast our bodies are going".


  1. Good luck! It's well remembered here the Prestige oil leak in Galicia a few years ago. Volunteers from all over Spain went along to help.
    Always surprising the incompetence of authorities (the fault in Spain lay completely with the shipping authorities who did not react in time) compared with the good will of most citizens.

  2. Thanks Brian. I guess we always think we're the only ones going through it! Or else that we'll NEVER be the ones and that it always happens to someone else. :-)

  3. But when it hits you, it hits hard. Galicia is on the other side of the Spanish peninsula, maybe 700km away, but I have friends who actually went there for a month cleaning up. The worst thing is to see these things happening again and again, as you say we all like to ride our luck - that'll never happen here!
    In a 50 km radius from where I live we have three nuclear power plants. There were 4 but one had to close after a fire!! But we all like to believe that meltdowns only happen in countries like Russia , never in modern world places like Japan or the US .... anyway, keep up the good work, and send our best wishes to your son :)

  4. Oh my. 3 plants in 50 km radius. We don't have any nuclear power in New Zealand. It was a decision that we made as a nation about 30 years ago. You may know the incident with the American submarine that wanted to call in?

  5. Thanks for the good wishes. I will pass them on.

  6. Thanks, the story rings a bell, but I'll check it out. The fact is "up here" we often have a rather utopic vision of you "down under", especially New Zealand, and the nuclear issue has helped. Australia's stereotype image is a little tarnished to say the least, for different factors but NZ , maybe it's as we know so little, maybe it's true, but many people (or at least the ones I speak to) see it as a safe haven from the "horrors" of the Old World. I hope it's true!

  7. Hmm. Well. It's all relative I guess. That's the three-word version. The long version could be a year's worth of posts.