Cleanup: Dirty jet fuel to be refined

Last updated 05:00 15/07/2014

PUMPED ABOARD: A worker on the deck of the tanker Kakariki, berthed in Lyttelton yesterday, taking part in the cleanup of fuel spilt during the March floods.

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Dirty jet fuel that leaked from Mobil's tank in Lyttelton during the March floods is being transported by ship to Marsden Point to be refined.

A landslip tore into the side of the tank at Lyttelton's tank farm, spewing 1.2 million litres of jet fuel into the secondary containment area, or bund.

An Environment Canterbury (ECan) marine response team and other oil companies pumped the fuel escaping from the bund into a nearby tank.

Last night, that fuel was pumped into the Kakariki tanker ship to be taken to the Marsden Point refinery later today.

Captain Michael Webb said that typically, the Kakariki stayed at Lyttelton for a day to discharge fuel but it was making an overnight trip to take away Mobil's dirty fuel.

A Press investigation revealed there were significant leaks in the bund that sent jet fuel pouring out. The holes were plugged with bits of branches as an interim measure by people first on the scene.

The five big drainage holes had no mechanism for closing them off. Mobil later said it was normal to have holes with no way of closing them.

"Drainage points of this nature are typical of retaining wall structures designed to facilitate water drainage and have no need for a shut-off valve or mechanism," said the Mobil spokesman.

Fuel also poured out of earthquake repair patch jobs.

About 1500 litres went into the harbour via the drainage system before sandbags could be put in place.

Nineteen households on Cressy, Brittan and Park terraces were evacuated due to fumes.

Mobil said it would reimburse ECan for the "reasonable" and "significant" costs of cleaning up its mess. ECan has spent more than $138,000 responding to the Lyttelton tank fuel rupture, with costs still being incurred.

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- The Press


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