Containers removed from Rena ahead of schedule

10:01 pm on 10 June 2012

The operation to remove containers from the Rena has finished a month ahead of schedule.

A tender process has now begun to decide who will complete the salvage operation to remove the wreck from the Astrolabe Reef off the coast of Tauranga.

The Rena's owners, Daina Shipping of Greece, say the salvage company Svitzer and the barge Smit Borneo have removed all the containers which can be reached.

The ship split in two in early January and Maritime New Zealand says there are 355 containers unaccounted for, or submerged with the section of the ship which slipped below the water.

There are 18 containers still on the fore section on the Astrolabe reef, which cannot be reached, and there are thought to be 41 unaccounted for, or on the seabed, awaiting recovery.

Nine hundred and thirty two containers have been taken ashore from the 1360 containers originally on the ship's manifest.

Tough job to retrieve remaining containers

The company overseeing the clean-up from the Rena says it will be a tough job to retrieve the estimated 355 containers still trapped underwater.

Grant Dyson from the clean-up company, Braemar Howells, says salvors have described the wreckage as mangled.

"The stern section has been described as something of a scrap yard, because of course the stern section slid down the reef and it's cantered over and the sea's been working on it for some months, so it's not in great shape".

Mr Dyson says scientific surveys have found very little trace of contaminants.

He says those containers which still have cargo in them are likely to be of very low risk because the sea has been washing through them and neutralising anything potentially dangerous.

Mr Dyson says Braemar Howells will be taking over security and safety monitoring of the Rena over winter, and start retrieving containers scattered on the seabed.

Community wants complete clean up of the wreck

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby says the community won't be satisfied with anything less than the complete clean up of the wreck of the Rena.

He says there was never going to be a quick fix to the situation and there's still a long way to go.

Mr Crosby says the salvors and the community have done a tremendous job considering the difficulties of the operation.

He says the disaster has had a devastating impact on local businesses, and a class action is underway against the Rena's owners.

Mr Crosby says due to the pollutants still leaching from the wreck, it would be unacceptable to leave it on the reef.

He says he wants the owner of the Rena held to account for the disaster.

The ship's captain and navigation officer were jailed for seven months each last month, and the ship's Greek owner, Daina Shipping, is due in court in July, charged with discharging harmful substances.

Mr Crosby says he would like the company executives to apologise to the people of Tauranga.