The oil spill on the Manawatu-Horowhenua coastline has affected a larger area than expected and authorities still do not know where it is coming from.
Ian Lowe, who is co-ordinating the clean-up for Horizons Regional Council, confirmed the extent of the spill, but was reluctant to speculate about its source.
“Our area of operation is approximately 14.3km; however there are sections within that where there is no oil, especially on the outskirts. The areas affected by oil approximately total 11km,” he said.
“I have no idea where it has come from. Sampling is not back yet and is due late Friday or on Monday.”
“I wouldn’t have a clue about it,” he said.
Lowe said the source of the oil was not his area of expertise and refused to answer further questions on the subject, saying it was Maritime New Zealand’s responsibility.
“I’m not going to speculate,” he said.
“We are always concerned if we get oil on our beach, because we have to clean it up,” Lowe said.
A spokesman for Maritime New Zealand confirmed that the results of the oil sample sent for testing were expected by the end of the week.
“The type of oil will help determine where it came from. The test will tell us whether the oil has been processed or not,” he said.
He did not want to comment on possible sources of the oil until the test results were in.
New oil washed up at Himatangi Beach on Wednesday, but not on Thursday, and the time-frame for the clean-up is being assessed.
Lowe described the new oil on Wednesday as ‘minimal spots’ and said some of the existing oil had remobilised due to sand movement overnight.
Clean up crews were back to the beach on Thursday, after which the situation will be reassessed.
“There will be a need for ongoing monitoring,” he said.
Lowe had aimed to clear all the larger patches of oil on Wednesday before combing the beach again.
Around 90 people helped with the clean-up effort on Wednesday, many of them locals.
Lowe was happy to have the extra help.
“We still aren’t actively seeking volunteers, but happy to utilise those that turn up. Currently we have enough help from locals which we appreciate,” he said.
Lowe said the Manawatu estuary was checked on Wednesday and there was no sign of oil or of marine life affected by oil.
Clean-up crews carried out a complete sweep of the oil affected area between Foxton Beach and just north of the Himatangi Stream on Wednesday.
Lowe did not anticipate any significant increase in oil volume.
Himatangi and Foxton Beach are closed to vehicles while the clean-up is underway and Horizons has asked that people stay off the beach.