The Resolve barge on-site near the bow section. Image: Maritime New Zealand

The Resolve barge on-site near the bow section. Image: Maritime New Zealand

A dive survey to conduct an external visual assessment of the MV Rena’s sunken stern section and its cargo has been completed, salvors of the stricken containership confirmed on Thursday.

Early indications from the surveys suggest that of the 36 remaining containers in the stern section carrying known contaminants, many have broken up and their contents have escaped since the vessel broke in two and sank.

Three containers, with cargo intact, were recovered; four were retrieved but were empty of contents; another seven were recovered in pieces; the contents of the remaining 22 are presumed lost to sea.

Captain John Owen of The Swedish Club said: “We have scientists from the Cawthron Institute working with the Rena Recovery Monitoring team to undertake further sampling and testing of water and sediment samples.

“This will then confirm possible solutions to remediate contaminated areas, currently known to be in close proximity to the wreck.”

The ship split in two in early January last year and salvage operations prior to that had been unable to reach the containers as they were in the lower holds and inaccessible. Of the 1368 containers carried on board at the time of the grounding, 1007 have been recovered.

Resolve is now using specialist heavy-lifting equipment to remove the large amounts of remaining cargo, wreck and container debris from an area approximately 10,000 square metres around the wreck. More than 256 tonnes of debris has been removed in the last month.

This work will enable scientists to undertake a more detailed study of the surface of the reef to help determine what if any contaminants remain trapped. Two containers of plastic beads possibly also remain trapped by scrap and debris within the stern section. Work to remove this debris will allow Resolve to determine how to deal with the beads and any identified contaminants.

Captain Owen says studies into the environmental, cultural, economic and safety impacts of the different options for dealing with the wreck are near complete. And that a further round of community consultation will be held in late February, before a final decision is made.

Dive Survey Videos:

Via The Rena Project

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