by Chris Tobin
Time it was gone – that is the opinion of PrimePort chief executive Phil Melhopt of the Dong Won 701 fishing vessel which is still tied up at the port nearly 12 months after a fire gutted it.
“We’re looking forward to a resolution for the vessel, whether deconstruction or scrapping,” Mr Melhopt said.
However, several government agencies involved said they were waiting for the Korean owners to take some action.
The Dong Won 701 caught fire in Timaru harbour on April 9 last year. About 50% of the vessel was destroyed.
It took nearly two weeks to fully extinguish the fire, with fire crews from Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson and Invercargill, as well as Timaru, attending.
The vessel was then taken from No1 to No3 wharf where it has remained since.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission is still investigating the fire.
“It’s taking time and the vessel is taking up important space that can be used by working vessels,” Mr Melhopt said.
“It’s a significant irritation but we understand there’s a lot of working going on behind the scenes to find a resolution.”
Berth charges are still being met by the vessel’s owners but Mr Melhopt said he could not disclose them.
“All I can say is that they are meeting their commercial obligations.
“A whole lot of hazardous materials have to come off.
“We’d like it to be settled sooner rather than later,” he said.
Maritime New Zealand said it had not received an application from the owners of Dong Wong 701 to start the process of moving the vessel.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) said it had also not received an application to scuttle the vessel.
Siobhan Quayle, general manager of the EPA climate, land and oceans group, said this would be the only time it would be involved.
“Under the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Act 2012 applications can be made to us for a marine dumping consent to dispose of items, like a ship, in one of five approved dumping sites in the EEZ, or another area in the EEZ.
“For this to occur, we would need for the owner of any vessel to submit an application, which we would then process.
“We have not received any marine consent applications relating to the Dong Won 701 vessel.”
The nearest marine dumping sites to Timaru are located 55 nautical miles northeast of Lyttelton and 25 nautical miles southeast of Otago Harbour.
Environment Canterbury harbourmaster Ian Fox said the vessel was safely secured.
“Its fuel has been removed so it is not considered a risk at this point. PrimePort and the owners are monitoring the vessel’s state on a daily basis.
“The vessel has movement restrictions in place from both Environment Canterbury and Maritime New Zealand that mean it must remain at Timaru unless we grant express permission for it to leave,” Mr Fox said.