Cliff collapse forces evacuation of 19 homes

CLIFF COLLAPSE: A cliff collapsed near Cressy Tce in Lyttelton causing a fuel spill and forcing the evacuation of 19 households.
CLIFF COLLAPSE: A cliff collapsed near Cressy Tce in Lyttelton causing a fuel spill and forcing the evacuation of 19 households.

Police evacuated 19 households from three Lyttelton streets after a cliff collapsed causing a fuel spill.

The collapse happened shortly before 2pm near Cressy Tce. Homes in Cressy Tce, Park Tce and Brittan Tce have been evacuated as a precaution in case of further slips.

The residents were evacuated to a council service centre in London St. It is unlikely they will be able to return to their homes tonight.

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch chief executive Peter Davie said residents were being moved from houses near the port's tank farm following a fuel spill.

There had been damage to a couple of fuel tanks at the port's tank farm, which is on reclaimed land. One of the tanks filled with aviation fuel had been punctured with the fuel spilling into an area contained by a bund.

The tanks are used and sometimes owned by customers including New Zealand's largest fuel retailer, Z Energy.

Davie said a slip had come down in Lyttelton and punctured one of the tanks, with another having a ''severe dent'' in the structure.

''All the tanks have a bund around them, a wall around them. It's leaking into there and they're going to discharge the rest of the tank into there.'

'They'll probably have to pump it out and truck it away I suspect. They haven't got to that stage yet. At the moment they've got to move some residents away from the houses because of the smells and things.''

Fire Service assistant area commander Greg Crawford said no people had been injuried.

The slip has come down to Brittan Tce, behind the fuel tanks around Charlotte Jane Quay. It breached a jet fuel tank below Brittan Tce, he said.

Crawford said there was no public danger at this stage. No other property appeared to be damaged from the landslide, but homes were evacuated as a precaution.

The slip dislodged the valve of the fuel bulk storage tank, allowing aviation fuel to leak into the containment bund surrounding the tank. The fuel was mixing with rainwater and would be decanted from the bund and pumped into nearby empty tanks.

Crawford said another tank appeared to be dented by the slip and was being monitored, but its contents did not appear to have been affected.

The smell of fuel in the area could last for up to 24 hours while it is dispersed by the wind.

Police advised non-essential visitors to avoid the area. Cordons are expected to remain in place overnight while the hillsides and fuel storage facilities are monitored. 


The Press