21 Jan 2014

Plans to move toxic drums at Port Taranaki

11:07 am on 21 January 2014

Drums of a toxic chemical that sparked the evacuation of Port Taranaki will be taken away on Tuesday if it's safe to do so.

The aluminium phosphide was on a ship Poavosa Wisom from Australia.

It was initially thought a fire broke out on board on Monday but it turned out to be the fumigant, which reacts with water.

Fire crews say getting the drums out was difficult and they were taken to a safe part of the port for the night.

Fire brigade area manager Pat Fitzell told Morning Report much wider evacuations were considered.

"The port was evacuated and we did consider evacuating some of the residents.

"We took our photoionization detector around the streets and took readings - but that was a consideration."

Mr Fitzell says readings with the same device on Tuesday morning will help tell if it's safe to dispose of the drums.

Maritime New Zealand says it is making enquries but is not launching an investigation at this stage into the incident.