Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited (Mobil) has concluded its emergency response efforts at Lyttelton Terminal, seven weeks after the Naval Point facility suffered serious damage during a major storm and subsequent landslide on March 5.
A complex operation to transfer over 2 million litres of unleaded petrol from a damaged fuel tank has been completed safely and without incident.
“We developed a detailed plan with the help of ExxonMobil’s global technical experts. The transfer took place over a period of weeks, and the petrol is now safely stored in another tank on site,” said Andrew McNaught, Country Manager for Mobil Oil New Zealand.
Two tanks, the containment bund and other equipment were damaged when 3400 cubic metres of soil and rock – equivalent to 300 dump-truck loads - slipped down a neighbouring hillside onto the terminal. A major operation was launched to recover 1.2 million litres of jet fuel which was released from a damaged tank into the concrete containment bund surrounding the tanks, complicated by heavy rainfall and landslide debris on site.
A small amount of jet fuel made its way from the containment bund into the external drainage system and the harbour. Steps taken to mitigate the loss of fuel from the bund and recover jet fuel from the drains were effective in minimising environmental impacts.
“Mobil’s priority at all times was to ensure the safety of our people, responding agencies, the local community and the environment. I am very pleased that no-one was hurt by the landslide or in the subsequent response and clean-up” said Mr. McNaught.
Mr. McNaught reassured local residents that actions taken by the Christchurch City Council since the March floods have significantly reduced the risk of another landslide.
“The Brittan Terrace drain (on the hillside above the terminal) which overflowed during the storms has been cleared and timber barriers have been installed as an added precaution to prevent storm water from cascading down the hill in heavy rain,” he said.
Mobil has an investigation underway into the cause of the landslide and subsequent events.
Mr. McNaught said “Contrary to recent media speculation, we can’t determine what caused the fuel to escape from the containment bund until the landslide debris has been cleared from the site and our engineers can properly assess the full extent of the damage”.
Work to empty residual fuel in tanks and pipework at Lyttelton Terminal will be completed over the next few months before any work to safely remove landslide debris from the site can begin.
“It will be some time before we have a full assessment on the damage to tanks, bunding and other infrastructure,” said Mr. McNaught.
“There are two damaged tanks that were directly impacted by the landslide, and three others close by. All of these tanks are not currently being resupplied, and we have no plans to put them back into service while we conduct our investigations,” he said.
“Our attention is now turning to future operations. The Naval Point facility and the Lyttelton-Woolston pipeline are an important part of the fuel supply chain in the South Island, and Mobil is committed to continuing to bring fuel into Lyttelton harbour” he said.
“We recently refurbished and recommissioned a tank at our Woolston Terminal, which has immediately boosted unleaded fuel storage in the Canterbury region.
“We are assessing further options to ensure we have the right infrastructure in place for the future,” said Mr McNaught.
Further background information is available at www.mobil.co.nz.
Samantha Potts, Mobil
+613 9622 7012