The Director of Maritime New Zealand has decided to allow a temporary pause of salvage work of MV Rena’s wreck pending resolution of the resource consent application.
The decision was reached following a request from the owners of the Rena to pause salvage work required by the Maritime Transport Act.
The Rena’s owners lodged a resource consent application under the Resource Management Act to leave sections of the wreck and associated debris in place on Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef and to provide for any future discharges of contaminants that may arise from leaving the wreck in place.
Maritime NZ said that the pause will take effect only when the wreck reaches the state set out in the application.
The owners’ application states that the wreck will be left in an “as benign as practicable state”.
The application is expected to be heard later this year by commissioners appointed by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
In allowing a temporary pause, two notices imposed by the Director of Maritime NZ will remain in place declaring the wreck a “hazardous ship” (under section 47 of the Maritime Transport Act) and a “hazard to navigation” (under section 100A of the MTA).
The notices – which have recently been updated to reflect the current state of the salvage operation – require debris removal, and removal of all known copper cargo, to be completed to a depth of 30m, and any release of hazardous substances to be monitored.
Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch said the owners were also required to continue to ensure any flotsam or debris escaping from the wreck would continue to be handled appropriately.
“This will be a temporary measure to allow the owners to go through the resource consent application process. Maritime NZ accepts that it is not reasonable to require further salvage work to be carried out, beyond what is required to reach the wreck state set out in the application, until resolution of that process,” he said.