Hydraulic oil spill 'contained' on ferry

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 10:38 05/03/2014
Stena Alegra
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
Stena Alegra

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KiwiRail ferry Stena Alegra suffered a mooring winch failure on Saturday night that spilt hydraulic fluid on its vehicle deck.

Paraparaumu man Allan Fryer said he saw crew members sweeping the fluid to the back of the ship and out the partially-open back door into the sea, but KiwiRail and Marlborough harbourmaster Alex van Wijngaarden said the fluid was contained onboard the ship.

Mr Fryer said he and his family were returning home from a South Island holiday on the last sailing of the Stena Alegra from Picton on Saturday when the incident happened.

The ship was late because of delays in loading and the door was only partly-shut when it left Picton, he said.

"They didn't get it fully shut till it hit the salmon farms in Tory Channel."

Mr Fryer said he and his family could see into the vehicle deck and saw crew "run around with squeegees and brooms and other bits and pieces" sweeping up the spill.

"It looked like they were just sweeping it down the back."

The crew got a spill unit out and put some absorbent material down but that was after they cleaned most of it up by sweeping it out the back of the ship, he said.

"It was quite shocking."

A rainbow reflection could be seen on the water from the back of the ship. He complained to Maritime NZ, Picton iwi Te Atiawa, Greenpeace, and others.

A KiwiRail spokeswoman confirmed there was a hydraulic oil leak from a mooring winch on the Stena Alegra when it was approaching the berth in Picton.

The hydraulic oil was contained and cleaned up by the crew, and no oil was discharged overboard, she said. A Maritime NZ spokesman said a complaint had been received, but the marine regulator would not be following it up.

It was a "tier 2" issue and had been referred to the Marlborough harbourmaster Captain van Wijngaarden to deal with, he said.

Captain van Wijngaarden said there was a spill on the ship's deck, caused by a hydraulic malfunction in the ship's mooring winches.

The sweeping that was seen by Mr Fryer was pushing the fluid into the ship's scuppers and then into its bilge tanks, not out into the sea, he said. The bilge tanks would be pumped out later and the material disposed of properly.

"The spill was dealt with in an efficient and environmentally-friendly way."

He could understand Mr Fryer's concern that he thought it was swept over the side, and the ship had been told it needed to report all spills to the harbourmaster.

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- The Marlborough Express

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