24 Apr 2013

Call for new protocol as Sandford fined over oil spill

10:23 pm on 24 April 2013

A judge sentencing a major fishing company over an oil spill says there should be changes to maintenance operations in the shipping industry.

Sanford Limited was fined $30,000 in the Christchurch District Court on Wednesday after admitting that one its vessels, the San Enterprise, discharged 2500 litres of oil into Timaru harbour in May 2012.

The company initially denied the charge, but changed its plea in March this year.

The spill was caused by a faulty pipe which ran through the ship's fuel tank, picking up fuel and discharging it into the harbour.

Judge Paul Kellar also ordered that Sanford pay the Canterbury Regional Council $38,728 to cover the cost of the clean-up, which took a week.

Judge Kellar said there have been 23 oil spills in Timaru harbour since 1994 and, as very few of them were emergencies, there was room for a new protocol on shipping maintenance.

The judge said that although light fuel oil is very harmful to aquatic life and has an adverse affect on marine creatures and birds, the spill was only moderately damaging.

Sanford's deepwater manager Darryn Shaws said on Wednesday that the faulty pipe and all similar pipes on its fleet have been changed to try and avoid another spill.

Jim Dilley, a regional harbourmaster for the council, says he hopes other fishing companies will take notice and realise that spilling oil is never acceptable.