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Oil spill responders practice on the water

Oil spill responders practice on the water

26 May 2014

First responders in a potential oil spill will be out practicing their skills on Tauranga Harbour this week to ensure they are ready for any incidents on the water.

The 18 participants in the course are mostly from Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s operations teams, along with the Port of Tauranga, Tauranga City Council and private contractors.

“This is one of the ways we work together with others to protect and care for the Tauranga Harbour,” Regional Council Manager, Maritime Operations Reuben Fraser said.

Mr Fraser said all regional responders were required to revalidate their qualifications every three years. The training included reviewing oil spill response options in Tier 2 events where the Regional Council takes the lead. This included deploying equipment, as well as practicing with booms and other gear to ensure they were familiar with how it is used.

“Regional responders form the first line of response in regional level or Tier 2 oil spill responses. They may also be called to assist at the national level should that be necessary in a Tier 3 response,” he said.

The course runs over two days, with an exercise on the water in the Tauranga Harbour on Tuesday deploying some oil spill response gear, including booms.

“One of our exercise objectives is practicing boom deployment, setting them up and anchoring them in a high energy and tidal environment. There are similarities and learnings from the various oil spills we’ve had here, such as the recent spill from the container ship Liloa. It’s particularly important to protect sensitive inner harbour and estuary areas by booming them off,” he said.

“Using booms can be very challenging due to their limitations in strong currents and tidal conditions. The need to protect sensitive areas is always going to be a high priority for a Tier 2 event.”

Mr Fraser said it was important to ensure responders could deal with routine spill awareness and capability in the region.

ENDS

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