German box ship Liloa fined for NZ spill





26 March 2014


Rena. Photo: Maritime NZ


The New Zealand Environment Court has fined the owners of the MV Liloa US$24,000 for a 1,000 litre heavy fuel oil spill in the Port of Tauranga.

German owners MS "Jule" Schiffahrtsgesellschaft GmbH & Co. KG, pleaded guilty to the charge of discharging a harmful substance into the water in the coastal marine area in July last year, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council reported. Speaking with IHS Maritime, Regional Council Pollution Prevention Manager Nick Zaman said it was a good outcome.

"We are very pleased with shipowners and their response," he said. "There was never any argument. They pleaded guilty and paid the clean-up costs on top of the fine. It was close to NZ$50,000 ($40,000) all up." Zaman said the court last week found the spill resulted from a misunderstanding between the ship's engineers about which tank was full, during bunkering.

One of the three tanks did not have enough capacity, with oil spilling from the deck into the sea. The deck was ankle-deep with oil, overflowing from the deck to the sea, the court heard. "The paperwork was wrong too," said Zaman. "What we've got out of this (court ruling) is that ships really have to have the correct paperwork and clear understanding on bunkering procedures. We're one of the busiest ports in New Zealand, if not the busiest. As a result of the spill, the company tightened up its procedures. We are pleased with this. They have taken it on the chin."

Zaman said the court ruling reminder that this type of practice is unacceptable. The Liloa operates in the South Pacific, refueling in Tauranga every three to four weeks.

"This is a timely reminder that this type of practice is not going to be tolerated, and the onus is on all vessel owners to make sure their bunkering procedures are up to date and that their crew follows these procedures," he said.

"With the expected increase of vessels using the Port we will be taking a hard line against these types of incidents." It could have been a lot worse," Zaman told IHS Maritime.

"We are still dealing with the fallout of the Rena. It slipped on the reef during big storms here just a couple of weeks back. We've got ongoing debris release do deal with." The Greek-owned Rena container vessel grounded on a reef off the coast of Tauranga in October, 2011, spilling 93,000 gallons of oil into the Bay.

It has been described as New Zealand's worst maritime disaster