A moderate nor'wester once forecast with near storm-warning ferocity became the environment's best friend in cleaning up a diesel spill in the Napier inner harbour during the weekend.
The spill was of an estimated 1500 litres from the moored fishing boat Mutiara, and was discovered between West Quay and the Napier Sailing Club marina and ramp early on Friday night.
But the moderate winds forced most of the fuel back towards the rocks opposite the Anchorage Motor Lodge where it was cornered by booms, and skimmed and pumped from the water by a Hawke's Bay Regional Council Oil Response Team.
Council incident controller Bryce Lawrence said most of the fuel was removed overnight, the team being able to leave the scene about 1am on Saturday, before returning for about six more hours after dawn, including a "rock-washing" operation to remove diesel residue from the shoreline.
The major casualties appeared to be two penguins rescued while covered with diesel and expected to suffer no long-lasting effects, and the fishing company from which Mr Lawrence said the full cost would be recovered, a bill expected to be over $10,000.
Mr Lawrence said it wasn't a "catastrophic spill," but it was the biggest in his 13 years with the council.