About 20 people from several agencies are to gather in Northland this week for an exercise involving a fictional ‘oil spill’ off the Paihia wharf.
The Northland Regional Council says exact details of the fictional Wednesday (subs: 12 March) ‘spill’ are being not being released publicly at this stage to ensure participants are kept on their toes and the response is as realistic as possible.
However, the Council’s Regional Harbourmaster Ian Niblock says about 20 people are expected to take part in the Bay of Islands-based exercise, most from the Regional Council, but also including staff from Far North Holdings, Maritime New Zealand and local tourism operator Fullers Kings.
‘Exercise Paihia’ will involve the establishment of an Incident Command Centre in Opua to deal with the ‘spill’, as well as the actual deployment of oil spill containment equipment in the sea off the Paihia Wharf.
Mr Niblock says Northland is one of the parts of New Zealand considered most at risk of a medium to large (more than 50 tonne) oil spill because it’s home to the Marsden Pt oil refinery and a large volume of commercial shipping also passes through its waters.
He says exercises are a valuable training tool for all those taking part and will add to the already considerable experience of local oil spill responders.
Typically, Northland hosts two exercises a year. The last exercise – based in the Marsden Pt area – was held in May last year and exercised both regional and national oil response teams.