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Need for oil spill vessel raised

Whether Gisborne District Council needs its own vessel to deal wth oil spills was questioned at the council’s May meeting.

Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann was reporting on a marine oil spill exercise drill on May 8.

It was apparent the council did not have its own rapid response capability for oil spills, she said,

During an exercise it relied on vessels from the Department of Conservation, Ministry of Primary Industries or Eastland Port for deploying skimming equipment, mobilising oil containment booms and helping with monitoring and recovery.

Without a dedicated oil spill response vessel the council was reliant on outside organisations to meet its response obligations.

This was something the council should consider through its next long-term plan.

Councillor Shannon Dowsing said it seemed to him there were three perfectly good vessels available and the council did not need to buy one.

Ms Thatcher Swann said the need for a vessel was discussed with the regional on-scene commander from Maritime New Zealand at the exercise.

Other councils had a vessel of their own.

Environmental services and protection director Nick Zaman highlighted the reliance the council had on others when it came to getting access to a response vessel.

In the event of a spill these might be tied up in dock and unavailable. If it had its own vessel, it would be able to respond.

Did the council not have the ability to sequester vessels, asked Mr Dowsing.

Ms Thatcher Swann said it was a risk that in an event the council might not have access to vessels.

Pat Seymour said this was something that could be put on the backburner.