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Oil spill exercise at Raglan prepares council staff to protect Waikato waters

Ensuring Waikato Regional Council staff are trained to protect Waikato waters is the aim of a marine oil spill exercise at Raglan tomorrow.

“This training is essential to bring new staff up to speed with how to respond, as well as refresh the skills of our experienced oil spill response staff,” said the exercise’s regional on-scene commander Richard Barnett.

“We hope never to need to do it in real life, but if we do have such a spill in our region we need to be prepared. These annual exercises help us confirm we have the resources and necessary skills to respond swiftly and effectively,” Mr Barnett said.

In the ‘Exercise Waikato Waters’ scenario, staff will be required to protect the estuary from heavily weathered crude oil that has entered the harbour from an unknown source.

Mr Barnett said: “In a real life incident this estuary would be one of many that would be potentially impacted by oil moving up into sensitive areas.”

Staff will be required during the day to decide the best place to recover and deflect the oil given the unique tidal flows that are present, and familiarise themselves with response gear, Mr Barnett said.

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

The exercise will take place in the Raglan (Whaingaroa) Harbour between 9.30am and 3pm, with the exercise teams set up in the reserve near the boat ramp on Marine Parade. Boat users will not be affected.

Media and members of the public are welcome to watch the exercise, but public access to the exercise area will be restricted for safety.

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