Richard Moore: A poisonous offer

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I reckon those of us living in the coastal Bay of Plenty should offer a big round of applause to members of the Rena Recovery Monitoring Team.

These guys and gals have been very busy testing our beaches and seas to see if our unwanted overstayer - the container ship Rena - has had a negative effect on our environment.

Their work allows us to see if the 236-metre vessel, stuck fast on Astrolabe Reef, has left us a legacy of pollution.

Now most of us suspect that of the garbage that spewed forth from Rena - oil, chemicals, hazardous materials stowed away in containers that have broken up over the past 18 months - something would have had a detrimental effect upon our waters and beaches.

The problem is that, without evidence, the Doubting Thomases - or rather Blind Pew with his walking stick - will say that it is all okay and there is no danger any more.

They are the same people who are happy the Rena has dropped out of sight on the horizon and is getting fewer headlines in papers.

But that doesn't mean it isn't still there. Or that its cargo doesn't remain a threat. Or that its steel structure won't continue to contaminate the Bay if left there.

University of Waikato's chair of coastal science, Professor Chris Battershill, says the monitoring team has confirmed contamination of the seabed around the Rena. That includes copper and polyaromatic hydrocarbons - the latter can remain in the environment for years, can cause cancer and also mutations in large enough doses.

"While we only have limited sampling information at this point, early indications are that the contamination is localised," says Chris.

While not good news, it is the best we can hope for and hopefully further tests can ease our minds about there not being widespread pollution of our backyard.

And remember folks, there are moves afoot to leave the submerged section of the Rena where it is.

To sweeten the deal, a figure of around $10 million was suggested.

This drew applause from some quarters - including divers who would like to see it as a scuba-diving destination - but let's look at it in the cold, hard light of day.

If left, the Rena will continue to leach out toxic substances.

And if it proves to be a non-floating environmental timebomb, then removing it will be near impossible without hiring in more experts.

They are not cheap and when you consider the cost is now well into the hundreds of millions of bucks, how insignificant will $10 million paid to appeasers look?

Do not settle for a quick, cheap "solution" pushed by vested interests. We must take the long-term view, as it is our region's future at stake. The Rena must go.

Lock, stock and poisonous barrels.

IT'S GOOD to see that three more Bay schools are going to have lower speed limits imposed in front of their grounds. They are Pyes Pa, Kaimai and Pahoia schools.

Hopefully that will get all drivers reducing their speeds through those areas but I won't be holding my breath. There will still be many who find the lower speeds inconvenient, or a nuisance, and will carry on at the usual road speed anyway.

Why be so cynical? Well, I see too many examples in Papamoa of unthinking people zipping through the 40km/h zones at 60km/h, presumably because they have things to do that are just so much more important than keeping children safe.

AN INTERESTING story this week about the Mount Maunganui cafe that asked a mother to go outside because her baby was squawking loudly and upsetting other patrons.

I can see both sides of the issue, as a baby's piercing cry is very unpleasant in a confined space, but I have been in the parent's shoes as well, trying my utmost to get the little blighter quieted.

The plan I developed was to make sure the kid was fed and happy before heading out - even if that meant arriving late - and if that didn't prevent the child doing what self-absorbed little ones do naturally, then it was whisked outside to be pacified.

Like most parents, I didn't want to foist my kid's noise pollution on to people trying to have a quiet coffee.

In the Mount Maunganui case, it would be interesting to know how long the crying was going for before the mother was asked to go outside.

And to quote Commander Spock from Star Trek: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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