Lyttelton fuel spill cleanup continues

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 08:42 10/03/2014
Jet fuel leak Lyttelton
Dean Kozanic
JET FUEL: Most of the aviation fuel that leaked from a punctured tank at Lyttelton Port, has been contained, but 1500 litres has flowed into the harbour.

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The smell of fuel still lingers over parts of Lyttelton after a landslide damaged a jet-fuel tank, spilling at least 1500 litres into the harbour.

The Mobil-owned tank was damaged on Wednesday afternoon when heavy rain caused a slip above the terminal.

Mobil spokeswoman Krystal Guppy said about 85 per cent of the fuel that spilled into a concrete-walled containment area around the damaged tank had been pumped into another tank on site.

It was not known how long the cleanup would take but response teams had been working "around the clock".

"The rate at which we can pump out the remaining fuel will become slower as the layer of jet fuel within the containment area becomes thinner," she said.

The company was grateful for the assistance of emergency services and local authorities.

Nineteen households nearby were evacuated due to fumes but all were allowed to return to their homes by Friday night and Mobil was now "developing actions" to minimise the smell as the cleanup continued. Extra containment measures in stormwater drains had also prevented any more fuel from entering the harbour, the company said.

However, an Environment Canterbury (ECan) spokeswoman said any rain over the next few days could flush any remaining fuel in the stormwater system into the harbour.

ECan's marine oil spill team had been undertaking regular assessments from the air and water. There had been no signs of distressed wildlife and it appeared the spilled fuel had dispersed naturally, the spokeswoman said.

Anyone concerned about the fuel spill can call Mobil's community hotline on 0800 777 979.

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- The Press

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