MNZ supporting spill response
Maritime New Zealand’s Marine Pollution Response Service (MPRS) is working closely with Taranaki Regional Council following oil washing up along a stretch of the Taranaki coastline west and south of Okato.
MPRS General Manager, Nick Quinn, said today an environmental analyst and response planning officer arrived at the site this morning to assist the Council’s response team. The environmental impact will be continually assessed by experts but preliminary observations indicate there will be minimal impact given the rugged nature of the coastline and limited number of species living there.
Mr Quinn said that at this stage MNZ is helping to identify the exact type of oil which has been washed up on to the beach. Once the oil type has been confirmed, he said a trajectory mapping system would be able to provide more accurate data on the likely location of the oil spill, and when it occurred.
“Each type of oil has characteristics that influence its behaviour when spilled,” said Mr Quinn.
“Oil samples from two offshore platforms have been gathered and are being sent away to Australia for
analysis. This task is being treated with urgency.”
Mr Quinn said that until the oil type was positively identified, it is very hard to begin the elimination process of possible sources.
“Many things have to be taken into account such as identifying maritime traffic in the area over the past week and of course, given the area, any activities which may have taken place at offshore oil fields.”
Mr Quinn said Taranaki Regional Council’s response team was highly trained in oil spill response.
“The On Scene commander and his team are handling this clean-up very effectively and efficiently and are well supported by council staff.
“They attend regular training sessions with MPRS and participate in oil spill exercises annually and it’s times like these where the hours upon hours of training really does pay off,” said Mr Quinn.
MPRS is based at Te Atatu, Auckland, and is New Zealand’s lead national oil spill response agency. The team of highly skilled pollution experts hold regular training for regional council staff. They have trained over 400 responders in New Zealand which includes a 50-strong national response team.