PARTS of the wrecked container ship Rena are set to be removed by salvors in the coming days.
Resolve, a US company appointed by the ship’s owners and insurers to reduce the size of ship’s bow, started cutting through the metal this week, with the scraps to be lifted by helicopter.
The Rena grounded on the Astrolabe Reef off the Tauranga coast on October 5 last year.
It created an environmental disaster when oil began leaking into the sea.
After gradually deteriorating it snapped in half in early January, with most of the stern under water.
Insurers The Swedish Club said on Friday that after months of salvage work, a number of studies would take place looking at different options for dealing with the wreck.
That included leaving part of it on the reef.
Captain John Owen, senior claims manager for The Swedish Club, said studies would take two months.
“There are many dimensions that need to be considered and we’ll be consulting widely and listening carefully,” he told Fairfax NZ.
One option was a full wreck removal in accordance with formal notices issued by Maritime New Zealand.
“Wreck removal is a heavy-engineering operation that could have significant impacts on the reef and sea bed as well as marine life,” Owen said.
“It’s never a simple task, and in this location it could be quite dangerous and will take a long time.”
The second option was to assess likely conditions once the bow section was reduced below the water line.
“This will give us a starting point to consider the positive or negative impacts of any other options such as partial reduction of the sunken stern section,” he said.
The stern was lying on an angle at around 65 metres below the surface, but the navigation bridge was only ten metres down.
“That presents some risks as well as opportunities for recreational users, while an operation to reduce the height of the bridge might have some negative environmental effects.”
A Maritime New Zealand spokesman said: “As far as we’re concerned the order for wreck removal remains in place.”
He said if the insurers wanted to explore other options, “they would need to explore that with the [Bay of Plenty Regional Council] under the Resource Management Act”.
Council consents manager Helen Creagh said staff and Rena’s owners were currently discussing possible resource consent options for the remaining sections of the wreck.
The council was unable to comment further, saying they have yet to receive any application.