A member of the public took photos and laid a complaint after seeing a discharge from Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior when it was at Bluff last year.
Exactly what the substance was remains a mystery.
On Thursday afternoon Greenpeace was approached and asked what the discharge was but a staff member in the Auckland office said everyone had left for the day, and no-one else was available to discuss the issue.
Environment Southland director of policy, planning and regulatory services Vin Smith confirmed the council received a complaint and photos about a discharge coming from the ship on October 31, 2018.
The report stated the discharge had occurred on October 29.
Smith said when the complaint was received, compliance staff undertook an immediate site visit. On arrival, there were no visible signs of discharge from the vessel, however samples were taken and an investigation started, including speaking with crew members on board the vessel, he said.
“Unfortunately due to the time lapse between the discharge and the reporting of it, two tidal cycles had occurred and the samples returned did not provide any evidence of a discharge.”
After a full investigation, which included various interviews and legal advice, it was determined that enforcement action under the Resource Management (Marine Pollution) Regulations 1998 could not be taken.
SouthPort chief executive Nigel Gear and Bluff harbourmaster Lyndon Cleaver both declined to comment and referred questions to Environment Southland.
The Rainbow Warrior was berthed at Bluff for several days as the crew toured New Zealand celebrating the ban on oil exploration. It had previously been to Stewart Island and was bound for Australia.