Rena wreck to remain on reef

Diving and fishing on the reef will be uninterrupted by further salvage efforts. Photo: Supplied.

The wreck of the Rena will be permitted to remain on Otaiti/Astrolabe Reef, the Environment court has decided in an Interim Decision released this week following an earlier hearing.

The appeal by Ngai Te Hapu incorporated, and Nga Potiki A Tamapahore Trust against the Bay of Plenty Regional Council decision to leave the remainder of the wreck on the reef has failed.

“Essentially, the proposition is that all that can be done in respect of the reef from wreck removal, has been done and that further works would have not only a detrimental effect on the reef and its biology (at least in the short term) but also be a safety risk for workers, particularly divers,” reads Environment Court Judge Jeff Smith's decision.

“By the end of the hearing, we understood that it was conceded that there was little further that could be done in respect of the aft section. This section of the vessel is in deep water and is unlikely to move.

“It has already suffered significant structural failure and the vessel is flat-packing. Any attempts to lift or move the vessel are likely to lead to collapse of sections and potential scattering of the pieces further around the reef.

“The feasibility of such an action is at best questionable and we received no cogent evidence that it was possible to lift the aft sections. At most it was suggested to several witnesses that it must be possible.”

Given the difficulties encountered in the removal of part of the Rena accommodation section, the Court considers any difficulties in attempting to undertake lifts on the site are compounded by the difficult position of the reef and the possibility of adverse weather conditions arising during the works.

“A number of witnesses for the appellant conceded that loss of life in respect of the reef, or significant damage to the reef, would be unacceptable,” says the decision.

“The argument essentially appeared to be that the Applicant's witnesses had vastly overestimated both the difficulties and the safety issues arising from the works.

“We conclude that the prospect of removing the aft section is negligible. The best course of action is to leave it in situ to flat-pack in due course.”

The mid-section of the vessel has already largely flatpacked, and consists of large and interconnected sheets, which may be unable to be salvaged without breaking things up and creating a bigger mess on a more active part of the reef which would increase difficulty and dangers for divers.

Like the hearings commissioners the Environment Court has decided on a ten year consent and a further ten year maintenance period, with a $5 million bond in case up to 20 tonne parts of the bow require removal.

“Having reached the conclusion that everything that can be done in relation to the wreck has been undertaken, the fundamental question asked early in the hearing by members of the Court, and the focus of attention, is whether or not there is any particular purpose in granting a consent,” says the Decision.

As the case progressed it became clear that at least several of the participants saw real benefits in conditions of consent. Even some of the parties in opposition recognised some aspects of consent conditions as being beneficial.

The following benefits of consent conditions were subject to focus during the hearing:

(a) the ability to measure and notify parties, including the public, as to the state of discharges on the reef;

(b) the ability to check for and then consider any changes to the positioning of the wreck, particularly as the result of major weather patterns;

(c) the ability to proactively review changes, either to the discharges or to the wreck position, and to review whether or not modern technology would enable removal; for example, whether discharges were recoverable, or if smaller parts of the bow were to move and become recoverable;

(d) the ability to recognise the role of kaitiaki, a specific reference group, and to acknowledge the role of the local iwi, hapu and kaitiaki in relation to the wreck;

(e) to make specific provision to enable offset compensation and enable the kaitiaki role of coastal Maori, particularly those who are ahi ka to Motiti Island.

The parties are to consult on the appropriate conditions of consent and the Applicant is to forward to the Regional Council and all other parties its proposed conditions of consent within 40 working days.

The council and all other parties are to advise their position in respect of the conditions within a further 20 working days. Thereafter the applicant is to file a memorandum setting out the proposed Consent and Conditions.



8 Comments

Sorry Murray

Posted on 20-05-2017 13:29 | By Papamoaner

But you have hijacked the debate which is about the court's decision to leave the wreck where it lies. Whose fault the disaster was, or who made money out of it, is academic now. Let's think laterally and turn the wreck into an asset as a diving attraction. Hell, Wellington and Auckland had to sink obsolete Navy ships to get theirs. We got this one for FREE. As earlier pointed out on here, to move it now would further harm the environment. It has stopped doing any harm it might have caused, and is now supporting a concentrated marine living environment. Let's not disturb that. The court made the right decision and that should now be the end of it.

here we go again

Posted on 20-05-2017 11:58 | By old trucker

Agree with By Murray Guy, you are dead right, your whole story is RIGHT ON, WELL DONE Murray, there was a program on the box, about a American Co,. that said if they were asked they could have LIFTED THE WHOLE thing up in one piece, Me dont tinks that they tried, (NZ) when i rung the 0800 no then it went to Palmerston North,i tried to tell the young woman about my thoughts but to no avail,. it was to cut all the containers off the back and take the weight off but went to DEAF EARS, it would have lifted up and would have not split in 2, but what would i know,probably lots,BUT NO ONE listens,my thoughts only,GO Murray, stick it up them, Sunlive Thankyou, 10-4.

Well said..

Posted on 20-05-2017 11:40 | By Me again

Murray Guy. Just cause it's not at the Mount, Papamoa or any where near the Main land, it should just stay where it is say the multitude sitting nicely in their couches looking over the beautiful blue waters. And the money grabbing groups, yeah a few eh, with hands in the kitty, half of them don't even belong to the island didn't even help with the clean up but hey, them the breaks.

What gets up my nose isn't ...

Posted on 20-05-2017 08:56 | By Murray.Guy

What gets up my nose is the fact that an outside New Zealand company, can be allowed, through gross incompetence, criminal neglect perhaps, crash their ship in our space, our place, and not have the authorities sending them a clear message from the outset - shift it, make good, OR don't come back! Skip all the BS in regards associated risk, that is their job to manage risk and they could have. Skip the BS in regards cost, isn't our problem, they got of comparatively light . What gets up my nose are the 'grave robbers', the money grabbing opportunists whose main focus is self interest, ego tripping, money in the bank and trinkets -bottom line, bugger the environment, that it's wrong, what's in it for me. And it's sits at the front door of Motiti. Different story if off Mount Main Beach!

If a precident was ever set.

Posted on 19-05-2017 22:50 | By GreertonBoy

for total wreck removal, the world would be in huge trouble.... insurance would make sea transportation impossible to afford. There are probably 100 wrecks around NZ that would then be required to be removed. I believe that pollutants and underwater obstacles to other shipping needs to be addressed most urgently, but other parts are better left if they don't pose a threat that cant be covered by marker buoys and map/gps notifications. I remember seeing a show on the goggle box about a bridge and the greenies were crying about the poor fish not liking the legs of the bridge in the water.... However, within a week or two, there were thousands of creatures calling the new foundations home. I bet what is left of the Rena is teaming with life... life which will be in danger if the remains of the ship were attempted to be mov

rena

Posted on 19-05-2017 21:43 | By dumbkof2

best decision that was ever made

Great Decision

Posted on 19-05-2017 15:16 | By jeancraven@kinect.co.nz

Totally agree.

Good decision, good result

Posted on 19-05-2017 13:41 | By Papamoaner

Sometimes our maori mates get a bit carried away. Just like Pakeha.

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Silhouetted sunrise on July 14th. Photo: Janet Hetherington

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