Spill lessons to be put to the test on the Coromandel
21st May 2012
A major oil spill exercise is to be held on the Coromandel in New Zealands' North Island next month, taking into account lessons learned during the `Rena` disaster.
The Waikato Regional Council exercise - involving up to 30 staff and including supporting agencies - will trial the use of booms and their effectiveness in helping keep oil out of environmentally-sensitive Coromandel sites.
Exercise begins at Whangamata harbour on 12 June and may include the Otahu estuary and Opoutere harbour, depending on progress. Non-toxic sawdust may be used to simulate oil floating on the water, although a final decision on this is yet to be made. Regional on-scene commander Adam Munro said the council's annual marine spill exercise was normally held over a day at one location, designed to deal with the effects of a spill inside a harbour:
"This year, following on from the Rena disaster, we're exercising up to three days and up to three locations with a view to helping keep oil from a big spill out of the two harbours and the estuary.
"This will simulate a situation where oil is threatening multiple locations over an extended period, a scenario similar to that which affected the Bay of Plenty after the Rena grounding."
During that time, the council and Maritime New Zealand developed a series of site specific response plans when it was predicted that oil from the Rena would impact the Coromandel's east coast.