Oil washes up on beaches as storm shifts Rena

By Ruth Keber

Bay man Nevan Lancaster says he has been collecting Rena debris for a while. Photo / George Novak
Bay man Nevan Lancaster says he has been collecting Rena debris for a while. Photo / George Novak

Debris and oil weighing 35kg washed up on Bay beaches after last weekend's tropical storm.

The pollution happened after Rena's stern changed position on the Astrolabe Reef.

The revelation comes a day after the Bay of Plenty Times revealed that Mount Maunganui Main Beach was voted one of the top four beaches in the South Pacific, and as activists gathered at Mount Drury to launch a petition calling for the wreck's removal.

Bay of Plenty regional Council senior communications advisor Linda Thompson revealed yesterday that Bay of Plenty Regional Council received complaints from beach walkers about oil on the beaches. She said before tropical storm Lusi the last time someone had reported oil on Bay beaches was October or November last year.

Regional council environmental management general manager Eddie Grogan said 20kg of oil and debris was picked up on Mount Main Beach and another 15kg on Papamoa Beach by Envirowaste.

Local resident Nevan Lancaster said he had been collecting pieces of container insulation from the Rena along the beaches for quite some time.

"You find it washed up on the beach every day, it's basically dense polystyrene that lines the containers on the Rena.

"On Sunday, there was also quite a few plastic beads around Tay St and Omanu surf club, too."

Mr Lancaster, who also spearheads the Rena Business Compensation Group, said it showed the ongoing damage the Rena was causing to the environment.

Spokesman for Rena's owner and insurer Hugo Shanahan said: "Some debris and small amounts of oil were recovered by the onshore debris management teams last Sunday and Monday."

Mr Shanahan said the "bulbous bow" which had separated from the main bow section had also broken in several pieces.

Iwi spokesman Mr Mikaere said leaving the wreck on the reef was a cultural offence.

"To have this wreck suddenly appear on our reef and go through the whole process of the cargo, oil and all the other pollutants come out of it and on to our beaches, to get us this far and for them to say 'No we have done enough, we think we are going to leave it now', it's not fair on us, on the people who live here and the people in New Zealand.

"Just because we are at the bottom of the world doesn't mean we shouldn't expect the same treatment as the Concordia."

Pat Spellman, Moana Radio host and driver behind the Restore our Reef - Remove the Rena campaign, said the petition was an opportunity for the people of Tauranga to really get behind the removal.

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- Bay of Plenty Times

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