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Gisborne’s marine oil spill team well prepared

Media Release
Release date: Monday, 2 November 2009

Gisborne’s marine oil spill team well prepared

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A marine oil spill exercise planned by the Gisborne District took place by the Marina car park at the junction of the three rivers on Friday (30 October). The Council’s oil spill response team tested their capability and refined strategies to contain oil spills within the city’s rivers.

The priority of the exercise was to stop any oil escaping into the Waimata or Taruheru River. Today’s practical exercise follows a very successful desktop response scenario held on Thursday. This involved Council staff, trained volunteers and Department of Conservation. The response was overseen by Maritime New Zealand staff who commended the group on their cohesive team work, quick thinking and leadership.

It was the first exercise lead by Louise Bennett. A senior environmental health officer with Council, Louise is the second woman to be appointed as a Regional On Scene Commander in New Zealand but is the only woman to hold this position currently. Louise has been involved with Council’s pollution response team for the past 10 years, and was responsible for storage, collection and disposal of waste and sourcing temporary waste sites during the oil spill resulting from the grounding of the Jody F Millennium in 2002.

Mrs Bennett has completed practical exercises and exams critiqued by National On Scene Commanders (NOSC) from New Zealand and Australia. She will be responsible for controlling exercises and incidents here in Gisborne. Mrs Bennett appreciates the community support for these exercises. “Gisborne is lucky in that it has a very dedicated team. There are people here from the Rural Fire Service, NZ Police, Eastland Port Company and the Gisborne District Council. All have attended Maritime NZ training courses in Auckland. We are grateful to Ray Dever and the Department of Conservation for the use of their boats. We can also use the surf life saving IRBs and crew when they are available.”

Bruce Anderson, General Manager Monitoring and Response from Maritime New Zealand congratulated the team on well run exercises. ‘The team motivation and focus is commendable. Exercises are important to keep teams skilled and ready for the next oil spill. The Gisborne District Council is responsible for dealing with small and medium sized spills for which MaritimeNZ provides the equipment and training to support the Council. The Gisborne team responds to about six spills each year mainly in the inner harbour area. Training of staff and any cleanup costs are met by the Oil Pollution Fund however where possible costs of any spill response are met by the spiller.”


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