Six diesel spills in 10 days concern Northland Regional Council

Date: 1/6/2000

Ring the environmental hotline immediately if you see a diesel spill – that’s the message from the Northland Regional Council after six spills in less than two weeks have polluted our coastline.

The spills, all from refuelling operations or bilge pumping, were in marinas in Tutukaka and Whangarei, and in Whangarei Harbour.

Monitoring Manager, Tony Phipps, says the Regional Council is keen to prosecute the people who cause these spills, but the culprits are very difficult to track down.

‘Unless someone sees the spill and gives us full details immediately, we have very little chance of pinpointing it on any one person or boat.’ The best way of alerting the Regional Council is to phone the 24-hour environmental hotline on 0800 504 639, preferably with details of the boat and when and where the spill occurred.

Mr Phipps says most of the spills may be relatively small but together can have a big impact on the ecosystems of Northland harbours.

‘Because it spreads out over water so thinly, a little drop of diesel goes a long way. It has a very strong smell, it fouls shellfish and other boats, and it is toxic to sea life.’

Mr Phipps says that most spills are caused by simple negligence – more care during refuelling, and making sure that there is no fuel floating on top of bilge water, can prevent almost all pollution incidents of this type.

Under legislation brought in recently, the Regional Council can issue instant fines of up to $750 for people who are responsible for spills and other pollution incidents.

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