Company apologises again for Rena wreck

9:23 am on 8 September 2015

The Daina Shipping Company has apologised again for the grounding of the Rena, on Bay of Plenty's Astrolabe Reef.

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The Rena - pictured shortly after it grounded on the reef in October 2011. Photo: SUPPLIED

The Rena hit the reef on 5 October 2011 on the way to the Port of Tauranga and still lies in two parts on the reef.

Daina Shipping Company director Konstantinos Zacharatos at the Rena resource consent hearing.

Konstantinos Zacharatos Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Daina Shipping director Konstantinos Zacharatos repeated an apology first made in 2012 over the grounding and subsequent pollution.

He spoke at a resource consent hearing, which opened in Mount Maunganui yesterday.

The ship's owners want to abandon what is left of the wreck on the reef.

Mr Zacharatos, who has visited New Zealand 10 times since the stranding, talked about engagement with iwi, visits to marae and talking with local people.

Mr Zacharatos also said that the resource consent had been transparent, and that concerns from iwi and the wider community had been taken into account by adding conditions to the application.

He thanked iwi that had settled with the company, but also acknowledged those that oppose the consent application.

What's left of the ship?

The ship broke up in various storms and split in two. Salvors were able, over time, to remove large parts of the ship's main cabin and bridge structure, but two large sections of the bow and the stern sank.

The bow is near the top of the reef but the stern is lying on its side about 55 metres deep. It's on the eastern side of the reef, which is most exposed to storms.

The port side of the stern section (video provided by the Rena Project):

The ship's original light weight, which is effectively the weight of its steel structure, was 14,500 tonnes, and about 10,500 tonnes remains on the reef.

Of the original 1368 containers, about 1100 have been recovered along with a lot of other material that washed ashore.

Divers are still collecting light material from the wreck.

Evidence has been given about just how difficult and dangerous the salvage operation has been, including two near-fatal diving accidents and a case of whiplash from a breaking chain that could have proved fatal.

The lawyer for the Rena's owner, Matthew Casey QC, told the hearing's commissioners that any contaminants that remain in the wreck are probably safer left where they are, rather than trying to disturb them.

However, the application for consent does cover the eventuality of discharges.

They said that any leak of contaminants would not have a noticeable effect but would be monitored.

The company said over $500 million had already been spent on salvage work, the second most expensive such case in world shipping, with only the Costa Concordia off Italy in 2012 costing more.

Mr Casey said that, over the last four years, a lot of time and effort had resulted in the best outcome for the environment and the community.

He described today's Rena as a partial wreck, which now joins about 3000 others around the coast of NZ.

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