Waikato Regional Council staff test their skills in oil spill exercise at Raglan Wharf

Waikato Regional Council staff engaged in a five-hour marine oil spill at Raglan Wharf exercise last week.

Council’s regional hazards team leader Rick Liefting says the exercise is essential to bring new staff up to speed with how to respond, as well as refresh the skills of experienced oil spill response staff.

“While we hope never to need to do it in real life, from time-to-time we do have such spills on our region’s waters, so we need to ensure our training is up-to-date.”

Staff familiarised themselves with oil spill response gear and deployed booms as they would during a real incident to contain oil.

“These annual exercises, required by Maritime New Zealand, help us confirm we have the resources and necessary skills to respond swiftly and effectively,” Rick says.

In the ‘Exercise Raglan’ scenario, staff were required to protect the harbour and shoreline from oil leaking from a sunken fishing vessel at the Raglan Wharf.

Waikato regional councillor Fred Lichtwark says a real life incident has the potential for sensitive marine areas to be impacted by the oil.

“That’s where public reporting of such incidents is so important, enabling the council to respond in a timely way.”

The exercise – funded by the Oil Pollution Fund administered by Maritime New Zealand – involved staff from across the regional council, as well as vessels and personnel from other agencies associated with emergency response.