An oil slick was spotted at approximately midday yesterday by Bridge Marina staff yesterday who contacted Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Pollution Hotline and the Port.
Heavy fuel oil had leaked from a pipe during fuel bunkering (transfer of fuel from a tank to ship). Bunkering was stopped immediately when the spill was noticed.
The exact amount of oil lost has yet to be determined.
All Regional Council maritime staff are trained oil spill responders. Staff deployed absorbent booms at the spill site yesterday to contain the oil as much as possible but poor weather conditions made oil retrieval efforts impractical until today.
First thing this morning, staff and contractors checked the water and shoreline of the harbour to identify any oiled areas, using boats and a helicopter.
Oil has been washed up high on the foreshore at Maungatapu covering about 300 metres of the beach north east of Turret Road. There are other smaller areas of oil at Motuopuhi Island and near Turret Road. Most is trapped in debris and vegetation, which is being removed as quickly as possible.
The National Oil Spill Response and National Wildlife Response teams have been notified and Maritime New Zealand has sent an observer.
Teams of trained responders and two boats were deployed today to the main oiled sites:
Maungatapu and Motuopuhi Island for manual clean-up of foreshore and deployment of booms to contain any remaining washed-up oil
Berth 7 to deploy further booms around the oil spill source site
Bridge Marina to recover oil from around the marina, using a sucker truck. The waste is being stored in sealed skips before being assessed at Te Maunga and disposed of at the specialst Hampton Downs facility in the Waikato.
The public have been asked to stay away from oil wash-up areas. Oil slicks or oiled vessels should be reported to the Regional Council’s Pollution Hotline, phone 0800 884 883, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mobil has set up an 0800 number for boaties wanting advice – 0800 895 011. Boat owners should not clean their own boats using chemicals. Please contact your marina operator for advice.
Rough weather yesterday weather also meant that birds were sheltering and less affected - just one oiled shag has been reported at this stage. Any oiled wildlife found should be reported to DOC 0800 362 468 (0800 DOC HOT)