NZ First fires on oil spill

Last updated 05:00 07/05/2012
failed pipe
JOHN BISSET/Fairfax NZ

MECHANICAL FAILURE: A failed pipe may have caused the Sanford's deep-sea fishing vessel, the San Enterprise, to spill oil.

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Environment Canterbury is standing by its report that a maximum of 4000 litres of oil spilled into the Timaru harbour last week, despite claims by NZ First that as much as 40,000 litres was spilled.

NZ First yesterday called on Environment Canterbury (ECan) and Timaru port authorities to reveal the extent of last week's oil spill, which, the party said, was a "major" volume.

NZ First leader Winston Peters said in a statement he had been "reliably informed" that 40,000 litres of fuel was spilled and that all that authorities would reveal was that it was a "significant" amount.

However, ECan's South Canterbury on-scene commander for oil spills, Grant Finlayson, told the Timaru Herald on Thursday he estimated two to four tonnes of oil had spilled, equating to a maximum of 4000 litres.

Mr Finlayson said yesterday that figure had not changed.

Sanford Deepwater manager Darryn Shaw admitted last week that one of its deep-sea fishing vessels, the San Enterprise, was at fault.

Early indications were that an internal pipe had failed, causing fuel to make its way into another compartment and then overboard.

The incident happened on Wednesday and the spill had been contained and mostly cleaned up by Thursday afternoon.

Booms have been placed along the wharf as a precaution and will remain there for about a week.

Sanford could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Prime Port chief executive Jeremy Boys said the port was not the right division to be responding to Mr Peters' claims.

Mr Peters followed his statement up by saying the people of South Canterbury had a right to know the extent of the pollution on their coastline and what was being done about it.

"This oil spill from a deep-sea fishing boat happened because someone made a mistake," Mr Peters said.

"An alarm should have sounded that the oil was going into the sea and an inquiry should establish whether this safety system failed."

Mr Peters said "too many" ships were causing problems.

"The wreck of the Rena is still causing headaches for the Bay of Plenty and further up the Coromandel coastline.

"It's time the Government and the maritime authorities took some responsibility for what is happening to our coastline before there is an event of catastrophic proportion."

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- The Timaru Herald

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