The Rena disaster clean-up is estimated to have cost about $130 million, Environment Minister Nick Smith told Parliament today.

The container ship ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef off the Bay of Plenty coast last October, and eventually broke up last month.

Tonnes of oil leaked into the sea and washed up on local beaches, as did some of the hundreds of containers onboard and their contents.

Dr Smith, who today faced a grilling in Parliament over the cost and possible prosecutions in relation to the disaster, said there was still significant uncertainty about the total cost of the salvage and clean-up, and it would not be clear until the operation was completed.


"A crude estimate of the total costs has been provided to me by officials, of $130m, of which the bulk is for the salvage of fuel cargo and the ship itself," Dr Smith said.

The majority of the costs were being met by the ship's owner, Greek shipping company Costamare Inc, but Dr Smith said government agencies had spent about $28m.

"It is our intention to fully recover those costs from the ship's owner and its insurers."

Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson questioned Dr Smith about charging Costamare under the Resource Management Act, asking whether he believed the Bay of Plenty Council should take such a prosecution.

"It is a decision for Environment Bay of Plenty whether they wish to prosecute under that Act," Dr Smith said.

"The Government has made plain that we hold the owners of the Rena responsible for the environmental damage that has occurred with the worst environmental disaster in New Zealand's history.

"That is why the Government, both through the negotiations over the issue of pollution costs, the Resource Management Act, and the maritime transport laws does intend to use the full force of the law to hold those responsible for that disaster."