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Published: 2010-06-16 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is conducting an oil spill exercise in Te Kouma, Coromandel Harbour on Friday this week designed to fine tune its response to real environmental emergencies.

Oil will not be put into the sea during the exercise, but the team will deploy oil recovery equipment such as booms (floating fences), storage tanks and rope mops during the training session to make it as authentic as possible.

EW regional hazards and emergency manager Adam Munro said the exercise was about ensuring the team was well trained and ready to respond to protect people and the environment.

"If a real oil spill occurred, our first priority is to ensure the health and safety of the public, stop any further oil leaks, recover spilt oil and protect wildlife and other environmental resources," he said.

Maritime New Zealand regulations require EW to carry out two oil spill exercise every year to ensure staff members are familiar with equipment and procedures.

"It’s also a chance to fine tune responses in areas around the region where oil spills could potentially occur," Mr Munro said.

"What we do at one beach is not necessarily what we do at another."

Members of the public are welcome to watch the exercise happening in Te Kouma from 10am-2pm Friday, June 18th, but are advised to stay behind the safety cordon.

EW last responded to a significant oil spill in the Coromandel in February 2007, when a 50-foot boat sank near Moturua (Rabbit) Island. The incident did not cause any environmental damage.