Hundreds of bags of Rena debris collected

10:42 pm on 11 January 2012

An initial clean-up of Waihi Beach in western Bay of Plenty has been completed with volunteers collecting hundreds of bags full of debris washed ashore from the stricken Rena.

Timber, polystyrene and bags of milk powder were scattered along the 8km shoreline on Monday from containers that spilled from the stricken ship as it broke in two during severe weather last weekend.


About 100 people cleaned up the shoreline on Wednesday afternoon, collecting large quantities of oil and polystyrene.

Maritime New Zealand says it can only coordinate volunteers for oil removal. As that has mostly been completed, it can't say whether another clean-up will be scheduled for Thursday.

Radio New Zealand's reporter at the scene says bulldozers and tractors moved hundreds of bags of milk powder.

Fist-sized lumps of oil were scattered across the western Bay of Plenty beach and clinging to seaweed and logs on the sand dunes.

Grant Dyson, of environmental clean-up company Braemar Howells, said earlier that no new containers had come ashore overnight on Tuesday. Insulation foam had washed ashore at Motiti Island and some oil had come ashore at Matakana Island.

Six containers were removed from Waihi Beach on Wednesday, with another 10 between Bowentown and just north of Waihi Beach yet to be taken away. Maritime New Zealand says 11 containers will be removed from Matakana Island as soon as possible.

At a meeting of about 200 residents in Waihi on Tuesday, salvors and representatives of Maritime New Zealand and the local council initially said volunteers couldn't help, as they lacked official training and there was a public health risk. They eventually gave in to arguments from residents that the risk was minimal.

Western Bay of Plenty Council chief executive Glen Snelgrove also told the meeting people had been seen surfing on debris floating in the ocean, behaviour which salvors had described as stupid and irresponsible.