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Oil Clean-Up Operation Ends

Taranaki Regional Council media release
17 June 2008

Oil Clean-Up Operation Ends

The Taranaki Regional Council has called a halt to its clean-up on the Okato coastline, nearly eight months after crude oil washed ashore from a spill at the offshore Tui field.

The Council says only tiny amounts of oil remain along the 14km of affected coastline but it will continue a monitoring programme and can re-activate the clean-up operation if necessary.

“An inspection last week revealed the amount of oil that remains on the coastline is small enough to be left to weather away naturally,” says the Council’s Compliance Manager, Bruce Pope, who was Regional On-Scene Commander of the response to the October 23 oil spill.

“In consultation with Maritime New Zealand, we have agreed that we can formally end the clean-up phase of the response.”

The major clean-up operation was carried out within days of the spill from the Tui oilfield’s floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, Umuroa. But in the weeks and months following, remaining oil that spread intermittently from rocks to the sandy beaches has been cleaned up by staff provided by oilfield operator Australian Worldwide Exploration and directed by the Council.

Mr Pope says it was fortunate timing that the oil came in on a spring tide and most of it settled high on the shore, generally away from important marine habitats.

“While residents, iwi and surfers were concerned about the effects of the spill, samples of water and kaimoana tested by Council scientists and others indicated that the environmental impact was at the minimum end of the scale.”

He says the Council has consulted a community liaison group of iwi, residents and interested parties about its clean-up and monitoring programme, and the consultation will continue.

Because the spill occurred outside the 12 n.m. limit, enforcement action is the responsibility of Maritime New Zealand.


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