Tourists empty unwanted diesel into stormwater drain in Nelson
A group of tourists found themselves facing the wrath of residents after they put the wrong fuel in their van, then made the decision to empty it onto a Nelson street.
Nelson Fire Service senior station officer Steve Shackleton said he was called to the incident in Fountain Place on Saturday, off Haven Rd after someone was seen emptying something into a drain next to the BP service station.
Shackleton said when he arrived, it became clear that a group of tourists, believed to be French, had accidentally put about 10 litres of diesel in their petrol van at the nearby BP service station.
He said the service station had offered to help them decant the fuel, but one of the group said they would sort it themselves.
"He got underneath and unhooked the fuel tank so all the fuel in the van was running down the gutter and into the storm water drain."
Shackleton said when the fire service arrived, a spill kit from the service station had been used to clean up the fuel from the road and there was little more they could do. Special pillows that could soak up hydrocarbon fuel were used in the drain.
He also called the Nelson City Council to notify the environmental health officer.
Shackleton said the driver was "pretty arrogant" and it was frustrating he was not remorseful for his actions.
"I said to him you can't just do this in New Zealand and he said, you've got to look at it from my point of view, I've got diesel in the tank."
Shackleton told him that wasn't the point, he should have let the service station deal with it or in the worst case scenario, he could have drained it into a bucket.
"He didn't give a stuff about it, he said we haven't got much money cos we are backpackers and we are only here for three weeks.
"That was like his excuse to drop all the fuel in the drain."
Nelson resident Stephen Halcrow said that he was at the service station to fill up his vehicle when a member of the public came in to tell staff what was happening on the street.
He said there were about eight tourists with the van, and they were using a section of garden hose to siphon the fuel directly into the stormwater drain.
Halcrow said it looked more like 20 to 40 litres of fuel.
"I went around and gave them an earful, I said what the hell are you doing? That goes out into the Maitai and into the Haven, my kids fish out off the wharf, we swim out in the sea do you not realise you are contaminating the water?"
He called police to report the incident and said he wanted to see someone prosecuted for it.
Having travelled to around 40 different countries himself, Halcrow said it was not the way any tourist should behave.
"I've done a little bit of freedom camping but I definitely cleaned up after myself and I never treated anywhere in the world like that, it's just rude, a total lack of respect."
Nelson Police constable Nathan Madden said police attended the incident and spoke to the group, who were tourists from overseas.
"They were remorseful, and said they had acted in good faith on advice they had been given."
Their details were passed onto the Nelson City Council, whose jurisdiction it was to make a decision on any bylaw offence committed.
Nelson City Council communications manager Paul Shattock said council also attended the incident and took immediate action to prevent the discharge entering further into the storm water network.
It was now investigating the incident and speaking to the person involved.
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