Lyttelton exercise hones marine oil spill response skills

Members of Environment Canterbury’s Regional Marine Oil Spill Response Team braved cold, wet weather to test their response skills and processes in Lyttelton Harbour last week.

Organisations involved

The Regional Marine Oil Spill Response Team includes members from Environment Canterbury, the Christchurch City Council, and the marine oil industry.

A total of 37 people were involved in last week’s exercise, including responders and observers from Lyttelton Port Company, Sanford, Mobil, NZ Oil Services Limited, Z Energy, and Fulton Hogan.

As well as testing their knowledge and skills with specialised marine oil spill equipment such as booms and skimmers, the team established an Emergency Operations Centre and practised using coordinated incident management systems (CIMS).

Positive feedback from participants and auditors

Canterbury’s Deputy Harbourmaster Guy Harris was the acting Regional On-Scene Commander for the exercise. “It was great to see the team back together,” Harris said. “Everyone got involved, we accomplished all our goals, and we had a great time doing it.”

Coastal Response and Readiness Lead Emma Parr is the appointed Regional On-Scene Commander for Canterbury and focuses on improving our region’s response capability for all significant maritime incidents, including marine oil spills. Parr said last week’s exercise was a success. “The auditors were very impressed with the enthusiasm, groundwork, and synergy of the team,” Parr said. “It is a testament to Environment Canterbury’s commitment to readiness and response within the coastal area.”

Parr and her team are currently monitoring the recovery of a 40-foot vessel that ran aground in Kaikōura over the weekend. “This is a timely reminder that the risk of marine oil spills is always there,” said Parr. “We need to be ready to respond at any moment.” 

Funding and auditing from Maritime NZ

Marine oil spill response capability is a requirement for regional councils under the Maritime Transport Act 1994. Maritime NZ provides all regional councils, including Environment Canterbury, with funding and auditing for two marine oil spill exercises per year.

The audit requirements include revalidations of qualifications for Regional Responders and Regional On-Scene Commanders, testing processes and plans, response capabilities and exercise management.

More information

For more information, read about our oil spill response and past oil spill incidents. If you ever see an oil spill on land or in the water, please contact the 24-hour incident response hotline on 0800 765 588 or report the spill via the Snap, Send, Solve app.