Bunker Fuel Spill in New Zealand’s Tauranga Harbour

Photo: Bay of Plenty Regional Council
Photo: Bay of Plenty Regional Council

Update: An update Tuesday morning from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council said that oil has been spotted on Maungatapu, Tauranga covering about 300 meters of the beach following Monday’s bunker fuel spill.

A helicopter survey this morning has shown no more oil in the water. It has not yet been determined how much oil was spilled.

“It is important that people don’t try to clean up the oil themselves. This is heavy fuel oil, and is persistent in the environment. We will be cleaning up any oiled areas using the proper equipment, so please do not attempt to do this yourselves or touch the oil,” commented Regional On-Scene Commander Adrian Heays.

“Today we are gathering as much information as possible on where the oil has gone and ensuring we can clean up as much as possible. There are booms under the wharf to contain what is there,” he said.

Previous: Bad weather was hampering clean-up of a bunker fuel spill from a ship in New Zealand’s Tauranga Harbour.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council reports that the heavy fuel oil spill occurred early Monday when a ship was bunkering at the Port of Tauranga. Severe weather, including rain and high winds, was hampering containment and cleanup efforts.

It appeared an oil line on a berthed ship had leaked and oil spilled near berths further along, the Council said. Once the spill was spotted bunkering was stopped, and responders were attempting to get under the wharf to fix the leak. High winds were making booms ineffective in containing the oil.

Because of the weather, authorities have been unable to exactly how much oil has been spilled.

“At this stage we don’t have any idea how much oil was lost. This means there could be oil coming ashore on beaches, and on boats,” said Regional Council On Scene Commander Adrian Heays.

Heays added that the spill occurred on an incoming tide and that the tide was now going out, which could mean the oil would be taken out to sea.

“We have staff working on it, and have notified Maritime New Zealand.”

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council did not identify the vessel involved.