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Diesel Recovered From Stranded Kumea II

Media release
Phone: 09 438 4639 Fax: 09 438 0012 www.nrc.govt.nz

Number of pages: 02
Date: 21 August, 2008

Diesel Recovered From Stranded Kumea II

Officials have recovered an estimated 3150 litres of diesel, lubricants and other oils from a wooden-hulled fishing boat which ran aground in the surf at Waipapakauri, on Ninety Mile Beach this week.

The 22-metre, Northland-based Kumea II ran aground on Monday a few hours after its crew were forced to abandon it when it began taking on water about three nautical miles off Shipwreck Bay, Ahipara.

Despite an extremely narrow window of opportunity presented by the tides and pounding surf, staff from the Northland Regional Council managed to board the stricken vessel about 4pm yesterday to recover an estimated 3000 litres of diesel, 100 litres of lubricants and 50 litres of engine oil.

Jim Lyle, the Northland Regional Council’s Opua-based Deputy Regional Harbourmaster, says it appears as much as 5000 litres of diesel may have escaped from the 24-year-old vessel since it first got into difficulties on Monday.

Mr Lyle says with the remaining fuel removed safely, the vessel was pulled upright with land-based machinery overnight. The vessel’s owner and insurance agent were on site and would spearhead attempts to try to drag it further up the beach today.

They were still hopeful the Kumea II might be able to be salvaged in one piece however, the size of the vessel, its location and the fact it had taken on so much water and sand since it ran aground might still make that impractical.

Mr Lyle says officials had only been able to access the Kumea II for about one hour at a time on the low tides at the beginning and end of the day.

He says the Regional Council has reported the loss of the diesel to health authorities who were reportedly confident it would not pose any long term environmental threats or health risks.

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“Although a significant amount of fuel has been lost from the Kumea II, the light nature of diesel compared to other oils means it would have broken up very quickly in the rough seas in the area and is unlikely to cause any lasting environmental damage.”

Mr Lyle says it is too early to accurately estimate the cost of the clean up and recovery operation, although the final figure would probably run to many thousands of dollars.

The Council would address the issue of cost recovery later, while investigations into the grounding itself are a matter for Maritime NZ.

Mr Lyle says with the diesel and other contaminants removed from the vessel, the Regional Council’s role from now on would be a largely monitoring one and it would be up to the vessel’s insurer and owner to salvage it.
ENDS


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