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Convictions, Full Costs In Dong Wong Spill Case

New Zealand's biggest oil spill response since 1948 has now reached finality, with clean-up costs recovered, convictions entered against the ship owner, and an independently chaired review of the response completed.

The direct costs of responding to the oil spill following the grounding of the South Korean fishing trawler Dong Won 529 on Stewart Island's Breaksea Islands in October last year have now been recovered, the Director of Maritime Safety Russell Kilvington announced today. These costs totalled $1,111,743. In addition to this sum, Sanford (South Island) Limited (who chartered the Dong Won 529) on behalf of Dong Won Fisheries, replaced the dispersant used by the MSA when responding to the spill.

Approximately 230,000 litres of marine diesel escaped from the vessel after it grounded in the early hours of October 6, 1998. The marine diesel was dispersed by the response operation and by natural forces. A further 91,500 litres of marine diesel, and hydraulic and lubricant oil were removed from the vessel's tanks during the three- month clean-up operation. There were no known wildlife fatalities caused by the spill and no lasting impact on aquaculture and fisheries enterprises in the area.

The response involved the Maritime Safety Authority, Southland Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Royal New Zealand Air Force staff and a wide variety of professional and community organisations.

Yesterday, Dong Won Fisheries was fined $20,000 in the Environment Court in Invercargill.

The Director of Maritime Safety initiated a review of the incident with the aim of improving future marine oil spill responses. This review was agreed to by both the Government and the Oil Pollution Advisory Committee (OPAC), a statutory advisory body. Responsibility for the review was delegated to a special review group with both an independent chairman and technical adviser.

The report congratulated the operations teams involved in the response saying that all involved deserved praise for the result that was achieved.

"We are delighted to receive this report's recommendations, most of which focus on improving processes or procedures for subsequent response operations. It is pleasing that the Group did not disagree with key decisions and actions taken on an operational level. Even if all of the review group's recommendations had been in place prior to the incident, they would not have materially affected the response and its success," said Russell Kilvington.

The recommendations have been forwarded to a working group that will advise the Director on implementing the recommendations.

"Now that all of these actions have been completed, I would like to thank everyone who took part in this, the first national-level marine oil spill response under New Zealand's Marine Oil Spill Response Contingency plan. Spills like this require a lot of preparation and team work from a wide range of people. I would also like to draw attention to the responsible behaviour of Sanfords , the charterer of the Dong Won 529. The company responded quickly to public concerns, especially those from fishers affected by the spill," he said.


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