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Published: 2011-06-24 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council will today be assessing the need to continue with the clean-up operation in the Awakino River following Wednesday’s oil spill.

The clean up began after an oil tanker crash in the Awakino gorge sent about 20,000 litres of oil into the river.

Yesterday, it was believed most of the oil had been flushed out to sea but a boom installed at the Awakino boat ramp and trucks with sucker hoses still collected a significant amount of oil from the river.

However, overnight very little oil was collected by the boom.

The council is now hopeful most of the remaining oil in the river is gone and says initial checks have indicated at this stage that the environmental impact of the spill has been minimal.

Today the boat ramp boom will remain in place and another boom will be at a bridge about four kilometres from the river mouth. Boats will check for pockets of oil at river edges. Propellers will be used to try to move any oil pockets out into the river stream so it can be collected by the booms.

Department of Conservation and Massey University staff will be carrying on with a wildlife impact assessment. Another coast check will also be conducted to see if oil has washed ashore.

“We’ll make a decision on the future of the clean-up operation later today once we have a clearer idea of exactly how much oil is left in the river and what the impacts on wildlife have been,” said council group manager Chris McLay.

“We’re hoping our checks today will confirm the oil is mostly out of the river and that local birdlife in particular may have escaped any widespread harm.

“However, we’ll be ready to maintain our clean-up crew in the area for as long as necessary.”

Mr McLay said the trucking company whose vehicle had crashed had worked well with the council to deal with the oil, and he was also grateful to DoC and Massey University staff for the way they had responded.

“In these sorts of events we all need to work together closely to manage the situation and there has been very good co-operation amongst all the parties during this spill.”