Leaked oil in Tauranga Harbour came from Mobil pipeline gallery

Oil has washed up along the shores of Tauranga harbour after a spill during bunkering at the Port.
Tracy Hardy/Sunlive.co.nz

Oil has washed up along the shores of Tauranga harbour after a spill during bunkering at the Port.

Heavy fuel oil spilled from a ship bunkering at the Port of Tauranga has washed up along the shores of the city's inner waterways - leaving a "boiling black mess". 

At least three birds were found oiled and taken to a Tauranga wildlife sanctuary following the spill at the port on Monday.

Mobil has confirmed the leak that led to oil being spilled into Tauranga Habour came from one of its pipelines during a ship's refuelling at the Mount Maunganui wharf.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Bay of Plenty Regional Council Bay of Plenty Regional Council Bay of Plenty Regional Council

Sucker truck at work at Tauranga Bridge Marina.

Absorbent boom in place at Bridge Marina Monday.

Oil spill response staff cleaning up the Maungatapu shoreline.

Oil on foreshore at Motuopuhi Island Tauranga Harbour near Turret Rd morning

1  of  4
« Previous « Previous Next » Next »

The petroleum giant has also said it will pay for any direct costs incurred in the spill and response effort in the harbour.

"We apologise for the incident and any concern or inconvenience it has caused for the community," said Mobil NZ lead country manager Andrew McNaught.

"We would like to assure them we are working as quickly as possible to safely manage the situation, to clean up the leaked fuel oil and minimise the impact on the environment."

Oil spill at Tauranga estuary.
Tracy Hardy/Sunlive.co.nz

Oil spill at Tauranga estuary.

"Mobil appreciates the efforts of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council in responding promptly and effectively to the incident. We will reimburse the council for any direct costs incurred in the spill response and clean-up."

McNaught said in a statement that Mobil had been made aware a number of boats had also been affected by oil and the company had set up a process to consider claims for direct damage resulting from leaked oil.

"Mobil is liaising with the local marina operator about boat cleaning procedures. We recommend the clean up is handled by an expert."

The company's public affairs manager for NZ and Australia, Samantha Potts, said the leak had occurred in one of its pipelines that runs through to the refuelling berth, but was not a main fuel line. She could not confirm how long oil had been leaking.

Ad Feedback

"We don't know how long the leak went for – the pipe is over the water and as soon as they noticed it, action was taken."

She said workers immediately stopped the bunkering process and began oil spill response procedures. 

"We don't have an estimate on the size of the leak at the moment, it is hard to determine from the sheen on the water, it was choppy conditions, it is even harder now it has washed ashore.

"The good news is there is no longer any oil in the harbour, there is some unfortunately on the beaches."

An oil line on the berthed ship Olomana had leaked during the bunkering process (the transfer of fuel from a tank to a ship), sending oil onto nearby berths and into the harbour, SunLive.co.nz reported.

A slick was spotted by Tauranga Bridge Marina staff on Monday, who contacted Bay of Plenty Regional Council's pollution team and the Port of Tauranga. 

Once the spill was spotted, bunkering was stopped, absorbent booms were deployed and responders had attempted to get under the wharf to fix the leak, Bay of Plenty Regional Council onscene commander Adrian Heays said. 

Chrissy Jefferson, from Oropi Native Bird Care Trust, said one shag had been brought to the centre "drenched in oil" and two other birds had reportedly been found oiled.

Monday's rough weather meant birds were sheltering and therefore less affected, according to the Bay Of Plenty Regional Council.

The shag found at Maungatapu had been wiped clean and was now feeding on fish, but it would be another few weeks before it could be waterproofed and released.

"He is doing well, he has been fed via a tube and is eating, once he got over the initial shock. He looked like someone had dunked him in a pot of oil."

Wiping the bird clean had stopped it from ingesting any oil during preening, said Jefferson. 

Since hearing of the spill, Jefferson had readied volunteers and prepared rubber sheeting to stop oil spreading through the sanctuary. 

"We have to find somewhere to put the contaminated water for disposal. 

She said two more birds, understood to be shags, were being brought to the Oropi centre on Tuesday for washing and care. 

"Any incidents like this can be avoided, it causes a lot of work and distress, it is their home that has been invaded by this black, sticky mess."

Julia Graham, of Mauao Wildlife Trust, said penguin monitoring teams had been assembled and would be checking for any oiled penguins on Tuesday night.

"We are hoping we don't find anything but we wouldn't be surprised if we do."

Graham said penguins typically come into the harbour so there was a possibility of penguins being found with spots of oil.

"If they are in urgent need of veterinary care most will be taken to the Wildlife Centre in Oropi, where they will be cleaned and waterproofed."

About 30 to 40 people would be split into teams and out checking penguin habitats around Mauao, Rabbit Island a Moturiki Island.

Oil has been spotted on Maungatapu, covering about 300 metres of the beach, about 1metre wide north-east of Turret Rd.

"We have reports of soiled boats in the marina, and one oiled shag has been reported, which is being cared for by DOC. A land team is assessing wildlife in the area," Heays said. 

Most of the blackened oil has been trapped in seagrass, which will be removed as soon as possible, said council.

The affected beach was difficult to access by vehicle and the oil pollution team would be using its oil spill trailers to clean up the oil.

Heays said the amount of oil spilled is still unknown, but all shorelines were being checked by boats and helicopter, including Pilot Bay and Matakana Island. Spots of oil have been seen up and down the harbour and along the shoreline. 

A helicopter survey Tuesday morning has shown no more oil in the water.

"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.

"Today we are gathering as much information as possible on where the oil has gone and ensuring we can clean up as much as possible. There are booms under the wharf to contain what is there," he said.

SunLive reported the leak was believed to have come from a break in the fuel line under the Mount Maunganui wharf and thought to have been pouring into the harbour for an hour on Monday morning. The 5000-tonne Olomana left the Port of Tauranga at 8am Tuesday bound for Tonga. 

Residents around Maungatapu and Turret Rd areas reported smelling oil from their homes on Monday and on Tuesday could see thick, black patches of heavy fuel oil mangled along the shore.

Maungatapu resident Dennis Duncan had gone to check the security of his jetty at the end of Moiri Pl when he spotted the oil on Monday lunchtime, reported SunLive.

"It was raining pretty hard and the wind was coming in so I went down to make sure the jetty wasn't getting moved around.

"When I got near to it I could smell oil, and when I got closer you could see it on the water. It was washing over the jetty. I rang the council straight away and they said they'd already had a call about it. I asked what they were doing about it but the woman on the phone said 'I only take the calls'.

"She said it came from a spill in the harbour and looking at it this morning, you can see it all up in the grass and places like that. I'm concerned because the grandkids play in the water when the weather is good and it's usually pretty clean."

Duncan said council had an oil spill responder working in the area early Tuesday, but there had been no direct contact from council.

"It's really thick oil and it's disgusting. We're a long way from the port, but you can see it trapped all around here.

"We should have had a call from the council to let us know what is happening but we haven't heard anything."

Another resident, Martin Neil, discovered the spill when his dog came bounding into the home with oil on him. 

"I checked the cars to see if they were leaking then came out the front to see a boiling black mess. This was about 5pm yesterday.

"They (council) said they were going to get a bobcat or a digger to pick it all up, but they're a bit late."

Rain and high winds had hampered oil retrieval work on Monday, said Heays, with booms proving ineffective in the heavy seas. 

The spill occurred on an incoming tide and four oil steams had been spotted heading towards Matapihi rail bridge. Conditions had been bad and cleaning up the spill was proving difficult, he said.

Staff had worked with the most effective booms and Maritime New Zealand had been informed, Heays said. 

He knew people would want to help with the cleanup, but it was important that this was done by experts, he said.

 Maritime New Zealand has since sent an observer.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council said in a release that teams of trained responders and two boats were deployed on Tuesday to the main oiled sites.

Part of the clean-up focused on recovering oil from around the marina, using a sucker truck. 

 The waste was being stored in sealed skips before being assessed at Te Maunga and disposed of at the specialist Hampton Downs facility in the Waikato.

If you spot oil on the beach please contact the Regional Council's Pollution Hotline number 0800 884 883, or email info@boprc.govt.nz to report small oil spots or oiled vessels.

Any oiled wildlife should be reported to Department of Conservation's number 0800 362 468.

 For advice on how to clean your boat call Mobil on 0800 895 011

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Woman gives birth at shopping mall

The baby was rushed to Starship Hospital in critical condition after it was born at Sylvia Park mall. (File photo)

A baby has been born in the toilets of an Auckland mall and rushed to hospital with its mum, in critical condition.

Political ad misses bus

The ads by ActionStation criticise Jonathan Coleman's approach to mental health services, but Coleman says mental health ...

Auckland Transport refuses to run ad at bus stops criticising Health Minister Jonathan Coleman's approach to mental health.

Innovative pipe work planned

Watercare is renewing some potentially leaky pipework in North Shore's Glenfield.

Motorists, don't worry, a $14 million dollar pipe upgrade won't disrupt traffic in busy Wairau, Watercare says

Fleeing car spiked, crashes

Emergency services are attending a serious crash near Glenavy.

Police arrested a man in west Auckland on July 21.

Wellington

Ex-cop battles police to save RSA

Former Titahi Bay RSA president John Ward.

An alcohol sting on the Titahi Bay RSA was excessive, and could have shut the club permanently, he says.

Night of wind, rain video

Heavy rain is set to ease into showers, but they'll be heavy. (File photo)

Almost 13mm of rain is forecast in Wellington between now and midnight.

100 powerless on East Coast

Power has been lost to about 100 people on the North Island's East Coast. (File photo)

Storms cause several major faults as trees fall on to power lines.

Seatbelt message fails to click video

Freezing worker Danielle Kiriau, 17, was not wearing a seatbelt when she died in a car crash along with brother Shannon ...

Big rise in numbers killed when not wearing belts raises questions over safety ads.

Canterbury

Second meth clean-up at complex

The Housing NZ Gloucester St unit being decontaminated for methamphetamine has been stripped of carpet.

HNZ's tenancy management negligence is creating a "ghetto-like environment", resident says.

Live: A rising threat

The Temuka River creeps higher and higher after a day of rain caused havoc around the South Island.

Defence force called in to help with Timaru's state of emergency as heavy rain continues to cause disruption.

Unborn baby dies after crash

A woman's baby was stillborn after she was in a two-car crash at this intersection of Ashley Gorge Rd and German Rd, ...

A heavily pregnant Canterbury woman's unborn child has died after a head-on car crash.

Floods trigger emergency states video

Heavy rain wasn't enough to deter Cameron King from jumping on his scooter and visiting his uncle in Timaru.

Canterbury and Otago pounded by one of the heaviest downpours on record.

Waikato

Honeymoon hoon's 202kmh ticket

Brazilian surgeon Marco Filho, adjusting his belt after leaving the Hamilton courthouse on Friday, was charged with ...

Safe to say the Brazilian speedster is not in the good books of his new wife.

'Slow the (truck) down'

A variable speed limit for the section of Gordonton Road could be in place within a couple of months, council's ...

Frustrated city councillors send a message to drivers at a troublesome intersection.

Motorcyclist critical after crash

The crash occurred at the corner of the intersection of the Thermal Explorer Highway and Anzac St East in Horotiu.

Man taken to hospital following a serious crash in the Waikato.

Hung jury in rape trial

A former church youth group leader has been on trial in the Hamilton District Court on a raft of rape and sexual assault ...

A jury has been unable to determine whether a former church youth group leader raped two underage girls.

Taranaki

Truck blocks highway

The trailer of a large truck has rolled and was blocking half of SH3 near Waitotara in Taranaki on Friday.

One lane was blocked on SH3 near Waitotara after a truck crash on Friday morning.

Pre-nup was unfair

The High Court has upheld a lower court decision for a couple to equal property shares after separating

A pre-nuptial agreement gave one partner $20,000, and the other partner $1.5 million worth of assets.

Contented in Tikorangi

The cave had mysterious myths abut it but turned out to be a simple earth-moving creation.

This garden is a treasure as are the people who created it.

Doing the dirtiest work

After Disaster owner James Nunes-Vaz has never ever turned down a cleaning  job.

After the police and fire brigade have done their jobs at an emergency scene, the clean-up begins.

Manawatu

No way in, no way out video

The trail's reconstruction has made life much easier for villagers.

After the 2015 quake, villagers in Uhiya, Nepal, were isolated, forced to fend for themselves.

Paediatrician jailed

Jonathan Walsh is in jail after pleading guilty to 17 charges relating to the making and distributing of indecent images ...

Paediatrician who worked in New Zealand hospitals jailed in the UK over indecent images of children.

Petition calls for heads to roll

Horowhenua District Council chief executive David Clapperton, left, and mayor Michael Feyen are deeply divided over ...

Boss of snooping council and deputy mayor must go, says petition organiser.

Tennis courts for sale

Feilding's four asphalt courts will be sold despite five submissions opposing the sale.

Feilding's four asphalt courts will be sold despite strong opposition.

Nelson

Battle to return soldier's diary

Margaret Kearns of Stoke, Nelson with a copy of her father's dairy, Hartley Palmer.

The Government has intervened to help return a war diary to its rightful home in Nelson.

Nelson's changing face

La Per and Mu Su Pan say they enjoy living in Nelson.

A fifth of Nelson's population was born overseas. Can the city meet their needs?

Man hit by car in Nelson

A 70 year old man was transported to Nelson Hospital in a critical condition.

A section of State Highway 60 in Nelson was closed on Friday evening after a man was struck by a car.

Dairy owners 'terrified'

Vijay, left, and Darshini Chauhan speak with Nelson Police Senior Sergeant Blair Hall  following a robbery at the dairy ...

After a spate of robberies across Nelson, the council has initiated a meeting with police and dairy owners.

Marlborough

'Why not' sink navy ship?

Waikawa Dive Centre instructor Kate Trayling, left, and owner Stuart Scaife hope to use a decommissioned navy boat, ...

Divers push to sink HMNZS Endeavour in Marlborough Sounds for Cook commemoration.

Heavy rain causes slip

A section of State Highway 6 between Blenheim and Nelson has been closed to one lane following a slip on the road.

SH6 down to one lane after rain hits the top of the south.

No parole for dance teacher

Stayz Raukawa was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail at the Blenheim District Court in 2015. (File photo)

The sex offender will not finish treatment outside of jail, after his victim spoke to the parole board.

Finals time at Lansdowne

Marlborough division one grand final rivals, Baxter Wilson, left, captain of Moutere, and Glen Ballam, co-captain of ...

Whatever happens at Lansdowne Park on Saturday, history will be made.

South Canterbury

Army called in to help gallery video

BP on Evans St, Timaru, has flooded.

Timaru and Oamaru in state of emergency as rain continues to fall. 

Downpours strike  video

Water rushes under the Leith Footbridge, in Dunedin, about 11pm on Friday.

Storm sweeps south as Timaru placed under state of emergency.

Army to evacuate sick child

An aerial view of an Oamaru street that has surface flooding in what was Oamaru's wettest day in July on record.

Defence Force sends truck to Oamaru to transport sick child to Dunedin.

Fallen tree blocks driveway

Timaru resident Ricky Hunter with a tree that fell across his driveway during the heavy rain on Friday, July 21.

South Canterbury man "stuck" at home with no way out other than on foot, after tree falls.

Southland

Stewart Island heritage gets $1m

An artist's impression of the Rakiura Heritage Centre. The centre has received, over $1 million in Government funding to ...

The Government is to commit $1.08m to the Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust.

Post-funeral brawl

Police and ambulance were alerted to the incident, but were not eventually required.

A post-funeral gathering in Bluff on Thursday night ended with blood, broken glass and a visit from the police.

Irrigation scheme 'a win-win'

Dairy Creek Ltd director Tim O'Sullivan, Pioneer Energy chief executive Fraser Jonker and Pioneer Energy project manager ...

A $10m irrigation scheme near Alexandra, Central Otago, is going to deliver water to about 1800 hectares of barren land.

Gecko stolen from visitor centre

The Marlborough green gecko that was stolen from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau.

An at risk gecko has been stolen from the DoC visitor centre in Fiordland.

Ad Feedback