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America's Cup - Reader push-back on Wynyard Point bases

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 31 Jan 2018 15:39 PST 1 February 2018
North Wharf has been developed into a series of cafe's and bars from the pre-existing cargo and fishing sheds - Wynyard Point, Auckland, January 31, 2018 © Richard Gladwell

Late last week one of Sail-World's thousands of international readers responded to a story posted on Sail-World's Facebook page about moves by Minister for Economic Development, David Parker to have more America's Cup bases located in Wynyard Point.

Minister Parker claimed that the cost would be reduced and would be more compatible with the long-term plans for the development of Wynyard Point as a public park. He omitted to mention that the responsibility for remediation of the contaminated land lay with the Auckland Council/Panuku Developments. A cost the 2016 Supreme Court decision put at $50million for the Mobil NZ sites. Also omitted was a reference by Mayor Phil Goff to a $6million payment to another of the leaseholders Stolthaven in recompense for an early lease termination.

Others external to the current planning for the Auckland waterfront claim that the proposed America's Cup bases destroy the intended waterfront and fishing port ambience intended for the area. They are opposed to plans to relocate the fishing fleet, seaplane and loading pontoon for the Waiheke and Great Barrier car ferries in a new facility on the western side of Wynyard Point.

If there are America's Cup teams located on Wynyard Point either on the current plan lodged on January 30, 2018, as part of the Resource Consent process, or in the so-called Wynyard Point proposal favoured by the Minister, then they will be close to some existing oil and other flammable substances storage facilities.

The US-based correspondent writes: "As an American who plans to attend the Cup, I think I can speak for many other potential attendees (read: tourists spending money in NZ) in saying that the Minister's preferred option is horrendous in terms of locating the bases in attractive surroundings that people will want to visit and patronize.

"I expect the teams will feel the same way. With apologies for the likely too-American reference, it's like asking people to spend their vacation at a Superfund site in the middle of a refinery complex. That can't really be what NZ wants to show to the world, both in person and on TV."

Sail-World NZ has long railed against siting teams in proximity to the tanks. It was not a pretty situation in Bermuda and is much worse in Auckland.

The issue was side-lined by the initial proposal for an extension to the Halsey Street Wharf favoured by Team New Zealand and Panuku Developments.

Yesterday we took a camera around the Wynyard Point area and took in some of the sites and scenes - not a great look.

Wynyard Basin - the preferred option. It involves the closing of half of Brigham Street and for bases to be built across the closed street and hard against the silos. ETNZ is expected to take Site 8. - photo © Auckland Council <a target=www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz" />
Wynyard Basin - the preferred option. It involves the closing of half of Brigham Street and for bases to be built across the closed street and hard against the silos. ETNZ is expected to take Site 8. - photo © Auckland Council www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

A Risk Assessment report by Sherpa Consulting, a Sydney and Singapore based independent risk consultancy specialising in fuel, gas and hazardous substances storage, is contained in the documents accompanying the Resource Consent Application lodged by Panuku Developments for the preferred Wynyard Basin site. The 22 page report discusses the situation with the tank farm area north of Jellicoe Street. The report says the risk at Halsey Street facilities is very low, and risk in this area is not a significant decision making factor".

Of sites located on Wynyard Point recommends amongst other restrictions that:

1 - a maximum of 100 people be permitted in each of the three Wynyard Wharf located bases;

2 - that no public events be permitted in the bases;

3 - no public access be permitted along Wynyard Wharf and other measures designed to facilitate evacuation of the area in case of an incident related to substance storage on the nearby Wynyard Point.

The report says that it is assumed that terminal operations will continue as normal over the America's Cup. Its report and recommendations note that there cannot be any increase in numbers of people on Wynyard Point than envisaged in the current plan (ie spectators or parking) without significant increase in risk.

"The cumulative societal risk results are based on very low densities of people present in the Bulk Liquid Terminals Area north of Silo Park so there should be no significant increases in populations in the Bulk Liquid Terminals Area north of Silo Park beyond the staff occupying Bases 6, 7 and 8. Any increases in population due to events (for example, event attendees sightseeing or parking in the vicinity of the bulk terminals sites (north of Jellicoe Street) will result in a significant increase in societal risk."

The report only covers the Viaduct Basin option - the preference of Auckland Council on its December 14 meeting. It does not consider the other proposals, such as they are currently, by Minister Parker calling for bases to be even closer to the hazardous substances storage locations. The last published version attributed to Minister Parker shows that three "double bases" are proposed in the Wynyard Point area, while the Council preferred plan has only three single bases - all located on Wynyard Wharf and Brigham Street. The report notes that two of the bases on Wynyard Point "are well above (higher than) the acceptable fatality risk target" and notes that the bases will require mitigation to reduce the "fatality risk target" to acceptable levels. The report says that the risks on these two bases (6 and 7) is due to "fire events" on two adjoining fuel storage sites, plus the lesser risk of "pipeline leak and fire events". The report is couched in terms of commercially acceptable risk in an oil storage facility. The report recommends that team base buildings need to be designed and constructed to provide resistance to an "external hydrocarbon fire".

The Halsey Street Extension option proposed by Panuku sidestepped the issues associated with trying to fit America's Cup bases into a working fuel and hazardous substance facility.

In a comment in other media the Minister conceded "the Point option will come down to HASNO (hazardous substances and new organisms) issues related to the tank farm at the southern end of Wynyard Point."

The two Resource Consent applications (including the Sherpa Consulting report) can be viewed by clicking here a Submission Form can be accessed by clicking here

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