Pollution responses

To report a pollution incident, call the Council's environmental hotline: 0800 736 222. The Council responds 24/7 to environmental incidents to investigate, and clean up pollution and take enforcement action if necessary.

Environmental incidents include spills, accidents and situations where an industry or resource consent holder does not meet consent conditions or regional plan rules. More than half of the incidents that the Council investigates are reported by the public.

Most incidents relate to spills or discharges affecting fresh water. Incidents also involve air quality (odours), the coastal environment or contamination of land.

Details of complaints, investigations and enforcements, and similar action arising from non-compliance detected during routine monitoring, are recorded in the Council’s Incident Register and reported to six-weekly meetings of the Consents and Regulatory Committee.

Marine oil spills

The response to a marine oil spill depends on the scale of the event. The main objectives are to prevent further pollution and to safely contain and/or clean up the spill without causing damage to the marine environment.

A Tier 1 response occurs when the spill is small and site-specific. The industry or owner of the vessel is responsible for cleaning up and containing the spill immediately. The spiller must notify and work with the Taranaki Regional Council.

A Tier 2 response occurs when the spiller is unknown or if they can’t cope with the response. The Taranaki Regional Council controls the response and the clean-up, using its Marine Oil Spill Contingency Plan.

If the size, complexity or environmental risk of the spill put it beyond the resources available under Tiers 1 or 2, it escalates to Tier 3 response under Maritime NZ (national) control.

The Taranaki Regional Council has a stock of equipment to clean up spills and MaritimeNZ provides resources and training to support the Council. Maritime NZ also maintains specialised equipment at Port Taranaki and can call on a National Response Team to deal with major marine oil spills. The Council has a trained response team which regularly carries out training exercises with Port Taranaki staff and Maritime NZ.

There is an internationally agreed principle that the “spiller pays” and the Council and Maritime NZ will always try to identify the spiller and take appropriate action.

 

Inland spills

The Council’s Inland and Estuarine Contingency Response Plan for Unauthorised Discharges sets out the planned response to unauthorised discharges to fresh and estuarine waters or to air.

The Plan outlines steps to manage a spill that poses an environmental threat but not a threat to human life. If a spill poses a threat to human life, the Council’s plan will be followed once the threat to human life has been addressed.

Particular emphasis is placed on spills in urban water supply catchments.

Many resource consent holders are required to have spillage contingency plans as part of their consent conditions.