Two years since the Rena
grounded, Tauranga beaches appear to have recovered with no
recent signs of tar spots.
But what's brewing below the surface and the long-term
effects of the grounding are subjects of research and
monitoring, and next month a series of scientific
environmental impact reports are expected to be made public.
Speaking from Wisconsin, University of Waikato Professor
Chris Battershill said a range of impact research projects
had been conducted during the past 20 months.
The Tauranga-based professor said once peer reviewed, the
reports would be released to the Environment Ministry, Bay of
Plenty Regional Council, and other key stakeholders,
including iwi, before being released to the public.
Research showed local beaches and most of the off-shore
islands from Waihi to the Bay of Plenty's east cape had
recovered "extremely well" because of the massive clean-up
Although that was great news, he said some areas were still
subject to intensive monitoring, including Astrolabe Reef and
around the wreck.
Prof Battershill is leading an Environment Ministry-funded
study into eco-toxicity, including research on the mixture of
Corexit and oil in this country's sea temperatures.
The study was due to take at least 18 months, he said.
Corexit dispersants were used during the clean-up and sprayed
on deep water about 20km off the coast of Tauranga in days
following the October 2011 grounding.
Prof Battershill is in Wisconsin for a week-long World
Environmental Restoration Symposium.
He is one of the keynote speakers talking about environmental
recovery from pollutants in oceans and seas, including
sharing his research into the Rena oil spill.
Rena Recovery Programme manager Warwick Murray said although
tar spots were occasionally being exposed after a storm, it
had been weeks since there had been the need for a major
Hundreds of people hit the Mount Main Beach and Papamoa Beach
yesterday, and there were no signs of oil or the troublesome
beads which earlier washed ashore.
Papamoa Beach resident Kathleen Andreae said that three weeks
ago she had to snip off bits of tar from her pet's fur, but
the beach had been clear of oil and little beads since.
"I hope this means we're finally seeing the last of it [oil].
"It's taken a long time to recover and I hope it's a sign
we're going to have an oil-free, fabulous summer."