Oil spilling into the inner harbour from two sunken boats was the fictional scenario that put the region's oil spill response specialists to the test on Thursday last week.
Fifteen people from Port Taranaki and Taranaki Regional Council took part in the exercise, which was set up, funded, and observed by Maritime New Zealand's Marine Pollution Response Service. The regional oil spill response team also includes industry representatives.
The fictional training exercise involved two small vessels sinking in the harbour. Both vessels remained attached to the marine structure and as a result of banging together, spilled a quantity of hydraulic oil and diesel into the inner harbour.
Regional on scene commander Tony Parr fed the response team additional information throughout the exercise – media inquiries, requests from the public, additional data about weather conditions – to simulate actual conditions that could arise.
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"The exercise covered everything from immediate response to developing an operational plan to contain and clean up the spilt oil and diesel, to iwi and community engagement, and measures for protecting wildlife including the penguin colony at the eastern end of the reclaimed land," says Tony.
Taranaki Regional Council director of resource management Fred Mclay says exercises like this are important part of being prepared.
"We are fortunate to have highly skilled and experienced people as part of our response team, and these exercises build our ability to respond quickly and effectively to incidents.
"It really helps the team hit the ground running if we do have a spill because it builds familiarity with what is needed, and tests the resources and systems we have in place to respond."
Training exercises are carried out twice a year. Some, like this one, are desktop exercises, and others are live scenarios that involve the deployment of equipment.