Buller District Council

Media Release- Final stage of vessel dismantling

29th March, 2018

The hull of a vessel being dismantled alongside the former Holcim Silo Wharf in the Buller River will be moved to Shingles Beach for a week’s final work to finish the job after Easter.

Formally named the Santa Monica, the derelict fishing vessel was brought to Westport by Alpine South Fishing Ltd which had planned to restore it. Buller District Council Chief Executive Andy Gowland-Douglas said Alpine South Fishing had paid for 18 months berthage in advance, at a higher rate than a working vessel, but then failed to meet the terms of its remaining contract with Westport Harbour Ltd and subsequently went into liquidation.

“With no functioning engines and the risk of the vessel deteriorating and either sinking at the berth or breaking loose and becoming a major hazard to shipping, the port agreed to allow the liquidators sell the vessel to metal recyclers Imac Metals of Hokitika” she said.

Imac has been busy reducing the structure down to a hull-only level since early last year, employing several local people in the process. Company owner, Craig Hopper, said a massive amount of rubbish had had to be removed from the vessel prior to work even starting.  Poor weather over winter had also hampered efforts to have the job completed before Christmas. He said the vessel was now almost ready to be hauled ashore for final dismantling at Shingles Beach.

He said various sites had been looked at for the final phase of the dismantling however Shingles with its relatively deep water access was the safest and only viable option for a large vessel with no means of self-propulsion and in a move that would involve a tow by the port’s pilot vessel Bob Gower. “It’ll be done at high tide with a digger on site so we can get it as far up the beach as possible”, he said. Mr Hopper said the public would not be permitted “anywhere near” the work area during the operation and it would be monitored 24/7.  He expected the final dismantling to take about one week.  “We work with plasma cutters that will leave no metal shards on the beach and we have been careful to remove potential contaminants from the vessel”. The West Coast Regional Council has been kept informed throughout and as the work plan was developed for this job.

Shingles Beach was created when excavation began in 1910 for a floating basin to provide shelter for ships.  In this abandoned scheme, which also created what is now known as the Lost Lagoon, the railway line (used to take rock to construct the eastern tip head) was diverted past the cattle wharf and delivered rock down river for construction.


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