Plastic beads are being scraped off Papamoa Beach today after they blew ashore in the weekend’s stormy weather.
The beads have come from a container load off the Rena wreck at Astrolabe Reef, discovered by salvors shortly before they were forced to abandon operations at the reef due to the weather.
Plastic beads discovered in a container on the Rena have washed up along beaches following the weekend’s storm. Photos: Bruce Barnard.
Plastic beads along Papamoa Beach today.
“Having recently removed a large amount of cargo and container wreckage from cargo Hold 4, Resolve located one of the two containers of beads at the bottom of that hold, at a depth of approximately 30metres,” says Rena Project spokesperson, Hugo Shanahan.
An initial assessment found the container was partially damaged with its cargo of plastic beads still largely intact.
Before salvors could begin removing the beads, the situation had to be contained ahead of the forecast severe weather. The container was covered with tarpaulins, held down by large magnets and 12tonnes of sandbags, and overlaid with protective steel plates, says Hugo.
There were swells of up to four metres at Astrolabe Reef at the weekend, which have apparently dislodged the coverings and released the beads.
“The release of beads is frustrating for all those affected,” says Hugo.
“The immediate focus now is to locate and recover lost beads. Resolve’s divers will be back in the water to assess the container of beads as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
The shoreline debris recovery operation is concentrating on locating and recovering beads as they wash ashore, using specialist beach cleaning equipment and local labour teams. Flight surveys of the coastline are also being used to help in the recovery effort.
Sightings of beads have so far been confirmed between Mount Maunganui and Papamoa beaches. Members of the public can report the location of any beads by phoning 0800 333 771.
The plastic beads measure 2.5millimetres in diameter. They do not represent any significant risk to public health and safety or to wildlife, but are a visual nuisance and can be difficult to remove from beaches, says Hugo.