Oil spill under control; harbourmaster

1 Dec 2015, 3:27 PM

Authorities cleaning up after an oil spill at Northport in Whangarei Harbour today say the majority has now been contained, including some which came ashore along a short stretch of beach at nearby Marsden Cove.

Jim Lyle, Regional Harbourmaster for the Northland Regional Council, says authorities were alerted to the spill by Northport about 8.30am today.

A team of several dozen trained responders, including regional council, Northport and Marsden Pt oil refinery staff, had been working to contain and recover what is roughly estimated to be about several hundred litres of fuel oil.

Mr Lyle says at this stage the oil is understood to have come from a ship berthed at Northport and specialised oil containment booms had been put in place both around the vessel and to help protect the nearby coastal environment.

Specialised equipment including boats and a purpose-built oil skimming barge 'Taranui' had also been deployed.

While the origin of the spill was still being investigated by council and Maritime NZ staff, the primary focus today was on containing the spill and protecting the local environment.

Mr Lyle says high tide had passed about 12.30pm leaving patches of oil along a several hundred metre stretch of nearby shoreline near Marsden Cove, where a clean-up operation had been under way for some time.

Very small amounts of oil had also found their way into the entrance to the Marsden Cove marina, where again booms and special material to soak up the oil had been put in place.

Mr Lyle says the oil which had found its way ashore would hopefully be cleaned up before the next high tide overnight and attempts to recover oil from the water are ongoing.

Officials had no confirmed reports of oiled wildlife, although bird recovery experts had been among those deployed as part of the response as a precaution. Local iwi had also been informed.

Mr Lyle says it is too early to say what – if any – enforcement action might be taken in the wake of the incident.

"Again at this stage, our current focus is on containment and recovery."