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Published: 2013-10-07 00:00:00

Boaties are being urged to take extra care when refuelling or discharging bilge water from their vessels following the discovery of a small diesel spill near the Coromandel wharf earlier today.

Waikato Regional Council’s harbourmaster attended the scene after a member of the public reported seeing an amount of diesel near the wharf this morning. 

The spiller has not been identified. 

“Spills such as this can result from carelessness while refuelling or discharging bilge water illegally,” said regional on-scene commander, Adam Munro. 

“With the days warming up and summer nearing there are likely to be many more boats heading out onto our waters. We need boaties to be extra vigilant so everyone can continue to enjoy our beautiful waterways. 

“Oil and diesel spills have the potential to seriously impact the environment and economy, particularly in areas like this where there are oyster and mussel farms operating, so it is important that spills are immediately reported to the regional council. 

“We have trained oil spill responders on call around-the-clock to respond to incidents across the region, which can be reported any time by calling freephone 0800 800 401.

“Our staff are also happy to provide advice and information on oil spill prevention techniques to the boating public.” 

Mr Munro said a nearby oyster farm has been alerted to the Coromandel incident and the council is continuing to monitor the situation, however, it is unlikely there will be any ill-effects from the spill. 

The diesel had already begun to disperse naturally when the council was notified and a combination of the warm conditions and an ebbing tide is expected to help disperse the remnants. 

Identified spillers can be invoiced for the full cost of the response – an average of $12,000-$20,000 for a small spill. Spillers can also be prosecuted under Marine Transport Act and Resource Management Act legislation. 

“Bilge water is almost always contaminated with oil or diesel and it is illegal to discharge it directly into the sea. So we recommend to boat owners that they use bilges with alarms, rather than relying on automated bilge pumps to maintain their vessels. 

“Sorbent material, such as bilge sausage, should also be used to absorb any hydrocarbons in case the bilge water is accidentally discharged,” he said.