6 Oct 2013

Mayor wants all Rena wreckage removed

7:47 am on 6 October 2013

The Mayor of Tauranga says the last of the Rena wreckage must be cleared away, no matter how much it costs the insurer.

Two years after the grounding of the container ship, its owner and insurer are still deciding whether to lodge an application for resource consent to leave the remains of the wreck on Astrolabe reef.

The grounding in 2011 caused hundreds of tonnes of oil to spill.

The grounding in 2011 caused hundreds of tonnes of oil to spill. Photo: NZ DEFENCE FORCE

The grounding on 5 October 2011 caused hundreds of tonnes of heavy fuel oil to spill onto Bay of Plenty beaches and is regarded as the country's worst maritime environmental disaster. Treasury figures put the overall cost to the Crown from the ship's grounding at almost $48 million.

Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby says he understands the owners will apply for consent to leave the remaining wreckage in place, but he is adamant the whole thing must go.

"It's going to be the black lining around our beautiful silver cloud for some time to come unless it does go. I don't care how much it costs the insurers."

Mr Crosby says he knows some people want the wreck to remain as a diving attraction, but it could leak more materials into the environment.

The wreck is no longer visible, as the salvage company Resolve completed the removal of the Rena's bow to below the waterline in August.

Resolve has also taken about 740 tonnes of debris from the reef to shore and removed 120 tonnes of container debris from the ship's cargo holds.

A crane barge arrived in Tauranga earlier this week to assist in taking away the submerged accommodation block, a process that's due to start in December.

'Quiet reminder'

Meanwhile, a sculpture was unveiled at Mount Maunganui on Saturday marking the release of little blue penguins back into the wild after they were rescued from the oil slick at the height of the disaster.

The work by local artist Peter Crammond is made of Oamaru stone and depicts the release of penguins that were looked after at the Rena Oiled Wildlife Recovery Centre following the spill.

New Zealand Garden and Art Festival director John Beech, who helped select the work, says the sculpture is testament to all the volunteers who helped in the aftermath of the disaster.

Mr Beech says he hopes the work will be a quiet reminder of the environmental impacts.