The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has released its S87F report on the application to leave the remains of the wreck in place on Otaiti (Astrolabe).
The report recommends that, provided key issues can be adequately addressed through the consent process, including consideration of cultural concerns, the application should be granted.
The report’s also concludes that while full removal of the wreck from the Reef was ‘technically possible’, it was not feasible, given the high health and safety risks associated with full removal.
In the mean while an ongoing debris recovery operations are well under way at the Astrolabe Reef. As well as the large hydraulic ‘orange peel’ grab, a powerful electro-magnet is now being used to recover smaller metallic cargo and debris, including lighter hull plate sections.
Roger King of TMC Marine Consultants says that after an initial settling-in period, the magnet has achieved what salvors hoped in removing a lot of debris that the grab could not get.
“It doesn’t get the large volumes, as the hydraulic grab does, but it does get ferrous material from around the rocks that the grab can’t reach,” says King.
“The salvors like working with it as the crane driver can pick debris with little effort and the riggers on deck like it as it only gets the ferrous scrap and debris, which means less time sorting non-metallic materials, but importantly less potential for damage to the reef,” King says.
“The thousands of steel balls we’re recovering are a case in point – it would have been impossible without the magnet.”