Experience gained from helping with the Rena oil spill clean up will benefit the Gisborne District Council's Marine Oil Spill response team. The team meets on Friday at the Yacht Club on Kaiti Beach to look at various beach clean-up techniques.
They will be joined by Mark Cavanagh from Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) and Jeff Cooke from Hawkes Bay Regional Council. Mark looked after on-water booming in Tauranga and has also worked on oil spill responses in Australia and the United States.
Exercise Controller Louise Bennett said oil spills can be managed using booms to contain the oil so it can be collected, dispersants to disperse the oil or beach clean-up techniques. "Our response team meet twice a year to conduct training exercises at the expense of MNZ. In recent times our focus has been on containment and collection using booms and skimmers.
"In reality beach clean-up is likely to be part of the solution particularly for oil spills around Gisborne and The East Coast. It was part of the clean up solution for the Jody F Millennium which stranded off Waikanae Beach in 2002 and a large part of the recent response to the Rena stranding in Bay of Plenty.
Friday's exercise will focus on a scenario where there is an oil spill on Kaiti Beach. The exercises are about ensuring the team is ready to respond to protect people and the environment. However, no oil is used in the exercises.
"We will look at response methods, what equipment we would need and how we would call in, train and manage volunteers. Using people to clean up the beach with a spade and sieves - as used in the Rena clean up - minimises the amount of sand loss and can be very effective. The use of heavy machinery on the beach in the initial stages is not ideal as oil can become squashed into the sand and this too has to be cleaned up."
Mrs Bennett spent five weeks working on the Rena and was in charge of coordinating oily waste disposal, decontamination units for both people, vehicles and vessels and was also involved with beach clean up techniques such as surf washing which is used a lot overseas.
"We are very lucky in the district to have such a capable response team. All have been trained by MNZ and have had quite a lot of experience. Some of the local responders were team leaders in the Rena response so we will draw on their experience during Friday's exercise."
Council's Marine Oil Spill response team includes Council staff, and representatives from Eastland Port, Rural Fire, Police, and Ministry of Fisheries and local companies.
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