Tauranga Moana iwi faced with further oil pollution issues

  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty
Tauranga Oil Spill 2015

As Tauranga iwi continue trying to deal with the fallout and damage caused by the Rena wreck in their rohe, they are yet again faced with further pollution issues in their moana.

A heavy fuel oil spill on Monday which originated from a Mobil pipe during fuel bunkering spilled a currently unknown amount of oil into waters around the Ports of Tauranga.

Iwi representatives and Coastal Chair Chris Battershill, the Regional On-Scene Commander will meet on site this morning to agree to a collaborative approach to clean-up at Motuopihi Island , one of the areas affected.

 A release issued this morning says containment of the oil has been successful and the clean-up is progressing well.

 A helicopter is checking any movement of oil overnight and iwi and council staff are completing site visits this morning. While teams are assessing if oil has appeared overnight they are not expecting to find anymore.

According to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, oil washed up high on the foreshore at Maungatapu covering around 300 metres of the beach. Other areas at Motuopuhi Island have been affected as well.

Council says most of the oil there is trapped in debris and vegetation and teams of trained responders and boats were deployed to the affected areas.

One local who lives on the shoreline in the Maungatapu told Te Kāea there were waves of oil coming into the beach when they initially noticed it.

Mobil issued a statement yesterday saying the company was working closely with council to deal with the issue.

According to the statement. "Mobil is cooperating fully with local authorities to assist with the response. The harbourmaster has the lead on the response efforts. Mobil regrets that this event has occurred and will conduct a full investigation."

Council says there is a manual clean-up underway and a council representative says local iwi have already offered whatever services they can to assist with the clean-up.

Booms have been deployed around the area and a sucker truck is also being used to assist efforts.

According to the Council statement issued this morning, a second oiled shag was found yesterday and had to be euthanised while several other lightly oiled birds were spotted but not caught. Mauao Wildlife Trust volunteers have checked penguins on Mauao and Motoriki and have not found any affected so far.

The full cost of the clean-up is currently unknown and anyone who sees oil slicks have been asked not to attempt to clean it themselves and contact the local council.