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5 December 2020

Public meeting as diesel still leaks

Friday 27 September 2019 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Environment


Public meeting as diesel still leaks
Ports Authority crew attend to the oil spillage at Avatiu harbour. 19092522

The location of diesel pipeline leak slowly seeping into Avatiu harbour is thought to be by the Are Tapaeanga shelter at the main entrance on the western side.

Pacific Energy Country Manager Mark Vaikai said all evidence pointed to a pipeline leak, but they still needed to determine exactly where.

“It is logical to start at the area where the new meeting place is built, identify where the leak is, dig, replace and fix that section of the pipeline.”

Ports general manager Nooroa Tou announced a public meeting will be held at 5pm today at the Ruatonga meeting house, for those affected by the diesel odour.

Pacific supplies 85 per cent of the country’s fuel, and is the sole provider of jet fuel on the island. It supplies approximately 14-16 million tonnes per year, and customers include Te Aponga Uira, Triad Depot and TOA Petroleum.

The last deposit of fuel discharged through the pipeline took place in the early hours of Sunday morning, just before the fuel tanker departed Rarotonga shores.

Vaikai said the pipeline was a multipurpose pipe, and it did not carry heavy oil.

The fuel supplier was notified on Monday by the Ports Authority; both crews had all efforts expended to contain the diesel spill in a confined area.

Both teams collaborated and attended to the cleaning up the fuel sediments floating around the affected areas of Avatiu harbour, using skimming equipment to pump out the sediment and the absorbent (sponge) to wipe around the wharf structures.

On Tuesday a drum-and-a-half of sediment was collected, four drums were drawn up on Wednesday, and since yesterday afternoon 1,000 litres had been contained.

“The trickle is a slow seepage; it is very low.”

The containment booms were also deployed to contain the spillage within a confined area for easy cleaning up management.

Sludge is pumped out at the marina (Te Kukupa mooring side), with crews monitoring the pumps through the night.

Vaikai said they have also environmentally friendly solutions to assist with the cleaning of the rock surfaces

He reassures the public the spill is confined, contained and manageable and acknowledges the disruptions to the neighbourhood and businesses in the area.

A team member from Tonga and Fiji would arrive soon to assist: “We are putting all our resources behind us.”