An oil spill currently being cleaned up around the Ports of Tauranga is believed to have originated from a Mobil fuel pipe.
According to a statement Mobil responded immediately after a sheen was observed on the water in the harbour at Mt Maunganui by shutting down fuel bunker operations which will remain closed until it is repaired..
The statement goes on to say, "Maritime NZ and Civil Defence have been notified in accordance with spill response protocols, and 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."
Mobil says, "Our first priority is to contain any residual fuel oil on the water and work to clean up any impacts to the local environment."
According to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, its staff are out in boats and in the air checking the harbour and choppy seas and windy conditions have dispersed the fuel sheen on the water.
The Council says the majority of oil is trapped in seagrass, which will be removed as soon as possible. The affected beach was difficult to access by vehicle and the Regional Council would be using its oil spill trailers to clean up the oil.
Regional On-Scene Commander Adrian Heays says the amount of oil spilled is still unknown, but all shorelines were being checked, including Pilot Bay and Matakana Island. Spots of oil have been seen up and down the harbour and along the shoreline.
He says “It is important that people don’t try to clean-up the oil themselves. This is heavy fuel oil, and is persistent in the environment. We will be cleaning up any oiled areas using the proper equipment, so please do not attempt to do this yourselves or touch the oil."
He said he knew people would want to help with the clean-up, but it was important that this was done by experts.
Anyone who spots oil has been asked to contact the Regional Council’s Pollution Hotline number 0800 884 883, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to report small oil spots or oiled vessels. Any oiled wildlife should be reported to Department of Conservation’s number 0800 362 468.