Fuel company fails to explain diesel spill

Wednesday January 08, 2020 Written by Published in Environment
Ports Authority crew attend to the oil spillage at Avatiu harbour. 19092522 Ports Authority crew attend to the oil spillage at Avatiu harbour. 19092522

The fuel company at the centre of the diesel leak in Avatiu harbour is stalling investigations into the major spill.


Investigators are still waiting for a report from the Fiji-based engineers of Pacific Energy South West Pacific Limited.

Efforts to get comments from their Cook Islands branch proved futile after numerous calls made to company country manager Mark Vaikai on his landline and mobile yesterday remained unanswered.

Authorities led by the Transport ministry are investigating who was at fault in the big diesel leak into the harbour in September last year.

Nooroa (Bim) Tou, general manager of the Ports Authority, said they could not complete the investigation without the engineers’ report.

“We are waiting for the engineers report from the Pacific Energy head office in Fiji. There has been a delay and we have sent a follow-up. We cannot complete the investigation regarding the spill without the engineers’ report,” Tou said.

“Pacific Energy had a ruptured fuel pipeline and we need a report from their engineers on what caused the rupture.”

Tou said the investigation would be referred to the Crown Law who was helping them with the legal aspect of the inquiry.

Under the Marine Pollution Act “no oil or any pollutant shall be discharged or allowed to escape from a vessel or platform into Cook Islands waters”.

According to the Act, the person or company responsible may be liable for a fine of up to $500,000, or two years’ imprisonment.

They are also liable for the entire cost of the clean-up operation, to restore the environment to its original condition.

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