A huge container ship docked in Timaru had a liquid nitrogen leak with ice forming at the rear of the boat, but emergency services were unable to board because of the risk of Covid-19 among the crew.
The 280-metre Rio Blanco leaked two tonnes of liquid nitrogen around 3pm today, but the situation was now under control.
Fire and Emergency senior communicator Mau Barbara said 20 firefighters and other emergency services were at the port.
"We have the problem that there is possible Covid on board so we couldn't get on board and the crews couldn't get off," Barbara said.
They liaised with Customs and the ship captain to board the ship with two metre distancing wearing gloves and masks.
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The entire Timaru port was evacuated during the safety risk.
But Barbara said the first mate of the Rio Blanco had now told them the situation had been resolved.
"We were all ready to board the boat, PPE etc, and the first mate of the ship found the problem," Barbara said.
"It was a minor pressure valve leak. Because it was liquid nitrogen everything was freezing over. So as far as I know we never actually got on board the boat and the crews haven't come off the boat."
A Ministry of Health spokesperson reiterated to the Herald that there were no new or suspected Covid-19 cases on the Rio Blanco.
"As is required under the Maritime Border Order, any port workers or people providing services to ships that are under quarantine are required to wear full PPE gear when boarding the ship. FENZ staff were following these requirements."