Trailer loads of Rena debris washes up

Last updated 12:45 07/04/2012

Rena debris in the coromandel

Rena
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
TEAM WORK: Contractors pick up debris from the Rena from Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel.

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More debris from the stricken Rena has washed ashore on Coromandel beaches, with crews cleaning up along the Mercury Bay coastline today.

Swells as high as 12 metres pounded the ship yesterday, making the seas so rough clean-up crews had no option but to stand on beaches and wait for debris to wash up.

Waikato Regional Council's Adam Munro today said the seas had calmed down, though there were still winds and showers.

He said the clean-up has focused on Mercury Bay and Matapaua Bay after more debris including milk bags, timber, noodles and plastics.

"We've done three to four trailer loads. It looks like that's going to be about it," Munro said.

"We're almost finished. They have done a pretty good job. The locals probably did most of the work, they piled it up for us."

Munro said the clean-up team would again check Hot Water Beach and Sailors Grave for any more debris.

No oil has been spotted so far.

About 30 people swept Hot Water Beach yesterday and collected about half a trailer load's worth of debris.

''It is quite painstaking work as all the debris is tangled up in clumps of seaweed, due to the heavy swell," Munro said yesterday.

The relevant agencies would continue to monitor the situation, but were relying on local knowledge to help them get the job done.

''Really, without the locals up here helping us and keeping an eye out for further debris or oil we could not get this clean-up operation done,'' James Hannill, of salvor Braemar Howell said.

''Once we clean up a beach we move on, so the locals, who know the beach better than anyone, become the eyes and the ears of the clean-up operation.

''We would really like to thank them for all their efforts so far.'' 

Contractors yesterday also headed south to Opoutere for a clean-up sweep there, with reports of noodles and timber coming ashore, while volunteers continued to cleanup Sailors Grave beach, just north of Tairua. 

There was a large amount of debris on the rocky coastline north of Tairua that couldn't be accessed easily.

Maritime New Zealand warned people to take care if using the beach or water off the Coromandel or Bay of Plenty. Strong winds and rough seas were forecast to continue through until tomorrow. 

Boat skippers and vessel masters were reminded to take extreme case as debris from the wreck posed a significant risk to shipping. 

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An exclusion zone remained in place for the Astrolabe Reef, and navigational warnings continued to remain in force. The public should phone 0800 645 774  to report any sightings of oil that may come ashore.

- Stuff

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