Petroleum services company fined for their part in Turoa ski field diesel leak

27/07/2015 13:10


21 July 2015

Petroleum Services (2001) Limited has been fined $34,500 and ordered to pay costs to WorkSafe of $20,000 after a stationary container system at Turoa ski field on Mt Ruapehu failed, leaking over 19,000 litres of diesel into the Makotuku Stream. Ski field operator Ruapehu Alpine Lifts was convicted in November 2014 for their part in the spill and for the contamination of the Raetihi townships’ water supply.

Petroleum Services (2001) Limited was sentenced today in the Taihape District Court for failings under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, and the Health and Safety in Employment (Pressure Equipment, Cranes and Passenger Ropeways) Regulations 1999.

An oil industry contractor, Petroleum Services (2001) Limited provides specialist services which include above ground stationary container fuel storage solutions. They were contracted in 2006 to design, manufacture and install at Turoa ski field a stationary container system made up of a 40,000 litre fuel tank, and a piped delivery system. The system was modified with the addition of a booster pump after it was found that diesel was not flowing properly. The alteration meant that fuel transfer was changed from gravity-fed to a pressurised delivery system. By carrying out the modification, Petroleum Services (2001) Limited failed to comply with a number of approved industry standards.

On 26 September 2013 the booster pump continued to operate after a transfer of 3,000 litres of diesel from the container storage system to a chair lift site was completed. While some parts of the system shut down, the booster pump kept operating. The sustained pressure resulted in a hose becoming detached. The entire contents of the tank were then pumped into the environment.

“The standards for installing this type of above ground container system are very clear,” says Keith Stewart, WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector. “Petroleum Services (2001) Limited failed to meet the standards or regulations for an above ground stationary container system with pressurised pipe work. They also failed to test the system, which is an essential requirement, following its modification.”

“The spill of this hazardous substance occurred only a short distance from the main ski-field buildings and put ski-field customers and employees at risk. Downstream waterways were also contaminated which resulted in Raetihi residents consuming contaminated water. The harm caused was recognised by the Court as an aggravating feature.

“Also of concern to WorkSafe is the fact that this incident occurred in a National Park and that the area affected is of great cultural significance to local Iwi.

“This case is a reminder to industry that you need to meet specific requirements if you design, manufacture or operate stationary container systems.