Full interview: Stuart Crosby on the Rena

  • 26/02/2016
Rena wreck
Rena wreck

Tauranga's Mayor says he is hoping for closure as a decision on the fate of the Rena's wreckage is set to be announced.

The decision is due to be made today on whether the ship's wreck off the Tauranga coast is to be cleared away, or if it can remain where it is.

The wreck of the 236-metre cargo ship has rested on the Astrolabe reef since it ran aground four and a half years ago, in October 2011.

Greek-based Daina Shipping, the owners of the Rena, and its insurer applied for resource consent two years ago to allow what remains of the ship to stay on the reef, due to the impracticality and cost of removal.

More than $500 million has been spent by the company clearing the debris so far.

An independent hearing panel was enlisted to consider and decide on the application, with the hearing taking 20 days.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council says more than 150 submissions were received in response to the application.

Local iwi were consulted throughout the process, Daina Shipping said last year, adding it has gained large support for the consent application.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby says he believes the wreckage will stay put.

"My view is that the commissioners will say it can remain," he told the Paul Henry programme this morning.

"The application was in two parts, one for it to remain and to continue to discharge contaminants. I think they'll say yes, with a whole string of conditions, probably up to about 10 years of monitoring, possibly a bond as well."

He says the recovery team has done a good job and what remains is "virtually inaccessible now".

"The balance of the vessel is somewhere between 40 and 50 metres below the water line, it's just too dangerous to recover now."

Mr Crosby says regardless of today's decision, he expects the battle to remove the wreckage to continue.

"I'd be highly surprised if this decision is not appealed to the Environment Court. The first phase of that's a mediation and hopefully it's settled then. We really want this whole process to come to a conclusion."

When the ship ran aground in 2011 it became New Zealand's worst maritime disaster, spilling oil, shipping containers and debris into the ocean.

The decision is due early this afternoon.