28 September 2015
Cook Islands officials have thanked the NZ Government for the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) work in relocating and upgrading a critical fuel depot as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight, saying it has helped avert a potential environmental disaster.
Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Teariki Heather said there had been safety and environmental concerns with the old fuel depot in the northern atoll of Penrhyn.
“As a result of conducting the exercise and the relocation of the fuel depot further inland, those concerns have now been addressed, particularly in respect of the lagoon and its environment,” he said.
Police Commissioner Maara Tetava said “the project will ensure the Penrhyn community is better protected from the unlikely event of an oil spill from the fuel depot.”
“The new fuel depot will also support long-range maritime patrols against illegal fishing in the northern Cook Islands,” Mr Tetava said.
“Most importantly, we have sufficient fuel in storage to allow us to progress our maritime surveillance and enforcement activities and to respond to disaster and other events in the northern Cooks.”
The Australian-funded Cook Islands Pacific Patrol Boat, Te Kukupa, undertakes long-range maritime surveillance patrols in the northern atolls, where most illegal fishing occurs.
Tropic Twilight is a recurring activity that is being conducted this year in the northern Cook Islands atolls of Penrhyn and Manihiki from 31 August to 12 October.
Around 40 engineers, plumbers, carpenters and electricians from the NZDF’s 2nd Engineer Regiment are working alongside 20 military engineers from China, the United Kingdom and the United States to also repair schools and clinics in the northern atolls. The New Zealand Aid Programme is funding the new fuel depot and the other infrastructure improvements being delivered as part of the exercise.
For more information please contact Defence Public Affairs on 021 487 980
NZDF YouTube video: https://youtu.be/QixCyiyExbg
Photos can be downloaded from the attached Dropbox link: