Oil spill exercise banner image

Oil spill response practiced last week

Monday 16 May, 2022

The Tairāwhiti marine oil spill team used their newest gear in an Inner Harbour training exercise last week, getting a big thumbs up from Maritime New Zealand representatives who were on site.

The exercise was headed by the regional on-scene commander Phil Nickerson and included people from, Gisborne District Council, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) and the Marine Pollution Response Service who got to try the region’s new skimmer.

The inter-agency exercise is one of two that legally must be run in the region each year to ensure seamless and efficient capability should there be an oil spill here.

The scenario for the exercise was that a vessel, which was being refuelled, had overflowed, spilling around 200-litres into the Inner Harbour. Booms were quickly put in place to stop the spread and the skimmer kicked into life. Cordons were set up, the FENZ hazmat truck was used as headquarters and the area was checked for any wildlife.

Mick Courtnell, from the Maritime New Zealand national response team, said the ability to respond is more important than ever.

“There may be more ships coming but there is a need for heightened awareness,” he said, adding that the key to the exercise was safety, teamwork and purposeful training.

He was heartened to see Tairāwhiti increasing its capability to respond to spills by training new members for the team. Annually there are around 200 oil spills across New Zealand, and most of those are from human error.

Mr Nickerson was pleased with the exercise.

”While this was a great training run, it also highlights the need for ongoing education throughout the community so everyone plays their part in looking after the environment.”

FENZ at oil spill responseInner Harbour Boat Ramp