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Rena Disaster: Feedback sought on proposal to deal with wreck    
Mon, 18 Feb 2013

The owner and insurer of the MV Rena have today announced dates for the next round of community consultation; including details of a proposal to deal with the remaining sections of the wreck.

The proposal being put forward will involve an application for consent under the Resource Management Act 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.

Commenting on behalf of the owner and insurer, Captain John Owen of the Swedish Club said: '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.'

'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.'

'Our work programme for the rest of the year will focus on addressing contaminants, the removal of debris from a 10,000 square metre area around the wreck and in due course, to make it safer for recreational diving,' he said.

The proposal follows more than 16 months of operations that have so far cost in excess of NZD$275 million, and has included various technical assessments on the options for full and partial wreck removal.

The alternative of full wreck removal would considerably extend the period the exclusion zone would need to remain in place, involve greater disturbance to and destruction of the reef environment and would present major operational challenges, including risks to workers operating in volatile and dangerous conditions.

The wreck will not pose a hazard to navigation and should not be a threat to the marine environment, so the further significant costs and risks associated with attempting full removal are considered not to be warranted.

'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 Capt 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/or economic projects across the Bay of Plenty,' he concluded.

In addition to the hui and focus group meetings, there will be two drop-in Open Days:
• Tuesday, 26 February: 4-7pm at Club Mount Maunganui
• Thursday, 28 February: 4-7pm at the Mount Surf Club.

Overview of Progress to Date
Following the ship’s grounding, the owners and insurers have worked with the authorities and local community on a stage-by-stage, ongoing recovery programme that so far has included:
• The recovery of 1467 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from the vessel directly after the grounding; including a further approximate 300 tonnes from the shore in which thousands of volunteers played a huge supporting role.
• The recovery of 1007 of the 1368 containers on board at the time of the grounding.
• Establishing an ongoing onshore debris monitoring and recovery programme covering the coastline and beaches of the offshore islands and the Bay of Plenty mainland.
• The appointment of Resolve Salvage & Fire to reduce the bow section on the Astrolabe reef to one metre below the low-tide mark.
• Resolve is also undertaking a clean-up operation to remove a large amount of the remaining debris from between and around the wreck, covering an area up to 10,000 square metres.
• Reaching a settlement with the New Zealand Government for its costs in responding to the accident.
• Establishing compensation funds in London ($27 million) and New Zealand (approximately $11.5 million) for third party claims.
• The appointment of a team of specialists to assess options for dealing with the wreck.
• Ongoing work with the Rena Recovery Group’s monitoring unit to address contaminants.

by Sail-World

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