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Rena owners propose leaving wreck on reef

Published: 4:17PM Monday February 18, 2013 Source: ONE News

The owners of the wrecked Rena are proposing to leave remains of the cargo vessel on the Astrolabe Reef off the Tauranga coast.

Daina Shipping, and its insurer, has this afternoon revealed its preferred option for the future of the wreck.

In a statement it says it will apply for resource consent to "leave the remaining sections of wreck and any debris in a way that is safe for the public, and ensures the consequences of doing so supports the future regeneration of the reef".

The company has been considering three options for the wreck: full removal, leaving the remains and its submerged cargo on the reef or removing all cargo and leaving the wreck where it is.

Captain John Owen of the Swedish Club said after 16 months of operations and technical assessments the company has decided to go for the second option.

"The proposal would provide for ongoing monitoring of the wreck's structural integrity, any remaining cargo and surrounding reef sediments, as well as arrangements to make safe any damage or potential hazard identified over time," he said.

"An ongoing onshore debris management plan, run by locally employed contractors will remain in place for the coastline and beaches of the offshore islands and the Bay of Plenty mainland."

The company said the full removal of the wreck would cause greater disturbance to the area as the shipping exclusion zone around the reef would need to remain in place for longer, and its removal would cause more damage to the reef.

The Rena ran aground in October 2011 and prompted New Zealand's biggest ever environmental clean up after 350 tonnes of oil spilled from its ruptured hull.

Daina Shipping itself has been fined $305,000 for the discharge of harmful substances following the grounding and will pay the Government back $27 million for the clean up.

The cost of the salvage operation so far has been $275 million.

Owen said the company will spend the rest of the year dealing with contaminants from the wreck and removing debris from a 10,000 square metre area around the reef.

Eventually the wreck would be made safe for recreational diving, he said, and would pose no threat to shipping.

"We will be seeking further feedback on the proposal from the Bay of Plenty community, which will include more hui with local Iwi and hapu groups before a final decision is made," said Captain Owen.

"If the consents are applied for and granted, a restoration package will be established to provide funding for a range of community and Iwi based research scholarships as well as grants for environmental, social, cultural and economic projects across the Bay of Plenty."

More information on the proposal and public meetings can be found on the Rena Project website

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