17 Oct 2011

Shipping company exploring options for help

7:06 pm on 17 October 2011

The shipping company that chartered the container ship grounded off Tauranga says it is willing to explore some options to help contribute to the salvage and clean-up.

The Rena has been stuck on the Astrolabe Reef since it ran aground on 5 October carrying 1700 tonnes of oil. As much as 350 tonnes has spilled, polluting popular beaches in the Bay of Plenty.

Senior managers from the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) met with Transport Minister Steven Joyce for an hour at Parliament on Monday morning.


It says the liability for the cost of the clean-up rests not with it, but with the owners of the Rena, a Greek company called Costamare Shipping.

However, Phil Abraham, the New Zealand general manager of the Mediterranean Shipping Company, says he told Mr Joyce his company is willing to contribute to the clean-up.

Mr Abraham says the company will look at a variety of options and get back to Mr Joyce once executives have visited Tauranga.

Mediterranean Shipping Company managing director Kevin Clarke says even though the company is responsible for the containers that have come off the Rena, it is not allowed under law to be involved in their retrieval.

Monday's meeting was called by Mr Joyce, who said he was concerned that Mediterranean Shipping Company did not see itself as part of the clean-up operation.

The minister is questioning the company's belief that it is not legally responsible and says it is still not clear who is liable for what.

Mr Joyce says no specific figures for compensation were discussed, but there is an understanding there would be a financial contribution.

The shipping company executives are travelling to Tauranga on Monday afternoon and intend to hold a news conference on Tuesday.

Costs mount

The cost of the clean-up operation is about $3.5 million so far, but Steven Joyce says that will rise.

The Labour Party says taxpayers will pay more of the cost of the disaster than they had to because of Government inaction.

Labour says the Government should have ratified the Bunker Oil Convention, which would have doubled the potential insurance payout for the disaster.

Labour leader Phil Goff says the Government was told by officials three years ago to pass the necessary legislation.

Mr Joyce says Mr Goff and the Labour Party could have moved on the matter when they were in Government.