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Concerns for penguins after diesel spill while cruise ship refuelled in Wellington

About 400 litres of diesel has spilled into Wellington Harbour while mega-cruise ship Radiance of the Seas was taking on fuel.

Monique Ford/Stuff

Harbour master Grant Nalder confirmed that there were reports of penguins in the area of the spill, which happened on Monday afternoon.

Initially, there were fears of up to 800 litres being spilled. The official estimate was closer to 400 litres.

The diesel leaked out of shore-based pipe work and ended up on the docks with “quite a bit” finding its way to the water, Nalder said.

CentrePort and Greater Wellington Regional Council responded to the spill on Monday.

The diesel broke up relatively-quickly with crews using water to agitate it. The wash of the cruise ship further broke up the diesel, and tugs were brought in to help further, Nalder said.

Environmental protection staff were at the scene on Tuesday morning and there was little sign of the diesel.

People were being asked to look out for penguins affected as at least one was spotted on the outer edge of the spill area.

An investigation was being done into the spill. It initially seems to be a failure with the fuelling contractor.

The 293-metre long, 90,090-tonne Royal Carribean cruise liner can carry up to 2466 guests. It has a 25 knot cruising speed.

Earlier this month the Ovation of the Seas, another of Royal Carribean’s cruise ships, got into trouble at the Wellington Harbour heads.

Nalder told Stuff the mammoth ship called for tugs while it was exiting the harbour, just off the coast of Seatoun.

An issue with the propulsion engines caused the ship to stop. Two CentrePort tugs held the ship, which was carrying just over 6000 people, while the problem was investigated.

The problem was fixed about 90 minutes later.

Tom Hunt/Stuff