24 Oct 2011

Motiti Island clean-up teams face uphill battle

10:37 pm on 24 October 2011

A volunteer helping to clear the oil-covered and littered beaches on Motiti Island says the clean-up teams can't access the whole shoreline because of the rugged nature of the coast.

The island in the Bay of Plenty has suffered major environmental damage since the grounded container ship Rena began leaking oil from its fuel tanks more than two weeks ago.

Volunteer Kaa says her teams have barely touched the surface of the problem, because the rocky shores and perilously steep cliffs have prevented them from getting to the clumps of oil clinging to boulders along the shore.

She says strong swells and bad weather have been holding back the clean-up because the conditions make it too dangerous.

Kaa says her teams have mainly concentrated on the few sandy beaches because other parts of the island would require people to scale down cliffs.

She says while the rubbish has been relatively easy to clear away, the sticky nature of the oil is proving more problematic to remove and more is expected to wash ashore.