Chemical spill at Port of Napier halts container terminal operations
Seven fire trucks were called in to help contain a chemical spill at the port of Napier on Thursday morning. The substance on the ground is water. Photo / Warren Buckland
A chemical spill from a container at the port of Napier halted terminal operations this morning.
Seven fire trucks were called shortly before 10 a.m. and crews focused on containing the chemical to prevent it from entering waterways.
A spokesman for New Zealand’s fire and emergency services said the spill is believed to be a type of polyline chemical used to make polystyrene.
“I understand that a blistered container in a larger shipping container split and caused the spill.”
He said no evacuation was necessary.
A spokesperson for the Port of Napier said the area had been cleared of workers and container terminal operations were suspended for much of the afternoon while FENZ handled the cleanup.
“Limited operations resumed at our container terminal this afternoon.
“We have also extended our hours of operation for late receptions this evening to help customers.”
Full port operations were to resume tomorrow on condition that Fenz gives the “green light”.
He said the substance leaked from a container that had been unloaded from a ship this morning. The cause of the spill is still under investigation.
The substance has been used in the production of asphalt and poses a risk of flammability, but poses no immediate health risk, he said.
The Hawke’s Bay Area Council pollution response team was also called in for the spill, said Katrina Brunton, HBRC’s chief policy and regulatory officer.
“The container involved contained 18 1000-liter containers of a highly flammable substance which also gave off poisonous gas.
“This gas could be felt downwind of the container, but not from a great distance.
“The pollution control team reported that the leak did not appear to be too large and the substance was in gel form and appeared to be coming out the back of the container.”
She confirmed that there had been no release of chemicals into the waterways or the sea, and that the spill had been completely contained.
“The port had made sure that a nearby drain was plugged to stop any runoff into the port and the ocean.”
A vacuum truck was also on standby, Brunton said.
The port captain will later assess the vessel involved, she said.