A window of calm after stormy weather at the wrecked ship Rena has allowed clean-up crews to resume work removing shipping containers from the seabed.
Clean-up contractors Braemar Howells yesterday used a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to carry out container preparation work on the seabed near Astrolabe Reef, off the coast of Tauranga, where the container ship ran aground last October.
Braemar Howells operations manager Neil Lloyd said the ROV was able to pre-rig four containers, getting them ready to haul to the surface.
"The better weather has also allowed us, under instruction from Rena's owners and insurers, to begin a visual look with the ROV at the seabed around the aft section of the wreck."
Mr Lloyd said shoreline clean-up work was focussing on plastic beads in particular.
The beads had washed up on Waihi Beach, where 100 bags and flotsam had been recovered, and on 38 beaches along the Coromandel Peninsula.
"The beads aren't clumped together in large masses, but they are spread over a very wide area."
All the beaches required different recovery methods and the clean-up teams were coming up with innovative solutions, including a large vacuum system called a "billygoat".
The billygoat was effectively a vacuum on wheels with brushes that could be driven along the high tide line, sucking beads into a collection bag at the back.
Staff were also continuing to use smaller portable vacuum units that had drums attached to a 15m hose.
"All this equipment has increased our bead recovery rate," Mr Lloyd said.
The recent stormy weather had not stopped patrols of the wreck site, which have continued amid concerns about unauthorised vessels approaching the Rena.
The Tauranga harbourmaster was continuing to deal with breaches of the two-nautical mile exclusion zone.
The oil spill response has been scaled back from a national to regional level, with all queries now directed to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.