A chemical spill at Napier Port, which prompted the Fire Service to go into high-alarm mode, was contained and cleaned up last night.

In a shipping container, the Fire Service located a damaged drum which was leaking a potentially flammable solvent, methyl ethyl ketone, yesterday afternoon.

The call-out came at 10am after a port worker found the leak.

After an initial assessment the alarm status was stepped up to "fourth-alarm" mode, with one firefighter describing the situation as "quite serious", given the nature of the chemical.


By noon there were four appliances from Napier and the Hazardous SubStances unit was on site, along with three appliances from Hastings and the mobile command unit.

Breakwater Rd from the city end near the Marine Pde entrance was closed off to general traffic for about three hours, although the stretch was re-opened at about1.30pm, with manual stop-go signals in place.

Buses and vehicles servicing the cruise liner Emerald Princess, which was carrying about 3000 passengers and had from Picton just before 7am, were not affected.

Cargo loading of vessels in port continued.

The damaged drum was removed from the shipping container and had been put into a specialised hazardous-chemical container for disposal.

A port spokeswoman said the small amount of methyl ethyl ketone that did leak was believed to have evaporated.

Napier Port chief executive Garth Cowie said he was happy with the way Napier Port and support agencies responded, including New Zealand Fire Service and Hawke's Bay Regional Council.