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Council response to sunken vessel tested in oil spill exercise at Raglan

Published: 2019-05-02

There will be more than the usual action at Raglan Wharf next week, with Waikato Regional Council staff to be engaged in a five-hour marine oil spill exercise.

Running from 9am to 2pm on Tuesday (7 May), the exercise will put council staff, gear and systems to the test. The wharf’s boat ramp will remain open to the public during this time.

“This training is essential to bring new staff up to speed with how to respond, as well as refresh the skills of our experienced oil spill response staff,” said the council’s regional hazards team leader Rick Liefting.

“While we hope never to need to do it in real life, from time-to-time we do have such spills on our region’s waters, so we need to ensure our training is up-to-date.”

Staff will be required to familiarise themselves with oil spill response gear and deploy booms as they would during a real incident to contain oil, Mr Liefting said.

“These annual exercises, required by Maritime New Zealand, help us confirm we have the resources and necessary skills to respond swiftly and effectively,” Mr Liefting said.

In the ‘Exercise Raglan’ scenario, staff will be required to protect the harbour and shoreline from oil leaking from a sunken fishing vessel at the Raglan Wharf.

Waikato regional councillor Fred Lichtwark said: “In a real life incident there is a potential for sensitive marine areas to be impacted by the oil. That’s where public reporting of such incidents is so important, enabling the council to respond in a timely way.”

The exercise – funded by the Oil Pollution Fund administered by Maritime New Zealand – will involve staff from across the regional council, as well as vessels and personnel from other agencies associated with emergency response.

Media and members of the public are welcome to watch the exercise, but public access to the exercise area will be restricted for safety.