Jet fuel leaks into harbour

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 16:34 06/03/2014
Fuel tanks at Lytteltonf
John Kirk-Anderson

FLOODED: Fuel tanks at Lyttelton, Brittan Terrace top right.

Slip damages fuel tank
Iain McGregor
DAMAGED: A slip has damaged a fuel tank at Lyttelton.

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A jet fuel leak at Lyttelton Port following a slip yesterday afternoon has been contained, but about 300 litres of fuel has leaked into the harbour.

The Mobil jet fuel tank, containing 1.2 million litres of fuel, was severely damaged from a landslide next to the Lyttelton terminal about 2pm yesterday following heavy rainfall.

A silo containing 91 unleaded petrol was also damaged.

Mobil said in a statement that it was working with authorities to repair the damage.

The leaked jet fuel had been captured within a concrete walled containment area around the tank, but some had "escaped" into the harbour.

"Efforts to recover the product from the containment area have been hampered by weather and safety issues. Our priority is to prevent any further release of product into the water," the company's statement said.

Mobil was working with Environment Canterbury's harbourmaster to deal with the fuel in the harbour and its supply organisation was working with customers regarding ongoing supply arrangements. 

Environment Canterbury regional on-scene commander Jim Dilley said about 300 litres of fuel had leaked into the harbour via storm water drains.

Dilley said the bund was the responsibility of Mobil to maintain.

ECan staff had been out on the harbour this morning checking on wildlife. Several species of birds including caspian terns, white-fronted terns, shags and pied oyster catchers had been spotted, none of which showed any effects from the oil.

Another wildlife check would be done this afternoon, including around Quail Island.

Dilley said the fuel was forming a thin layer on the surface of the water, and was evaporating.

He said people should be avoiding the surrounding water for the next few days anyway, as the flooding would have brought run-off and possibly sewage into the harbour.

Nineteen homes in Cressy, Park and Brittan terraces were evacuated just after the slip was reported and cordons were put in place overnight.

Eleven households were still out of their homes today, though some residents were able to get possessions out with a police escort.

Some residents from the area are still out of their homes today, but some were able to get possessions out with a police escort.

Police spokesman Stephen Hill said a couple of people living on boats in the marina had also been evacuated because of the fuel fumes.

Cressy Tce was open to light vehicles today, but police had advised non-essential visitors to avoid the area. 

Emergency services were confident there was no danger to Lyttelton residents following the fuel leak, although fumes could linger for some time. 

Geotechnical engineers were understood to be in the area today to assess the situation.

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- The Press

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