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Published: 2005-11-16 00:00:00

The spill of lactose from Hautapu (near Hamilton) reached the Waikato River about 5 a.m. this morning -- but is not visible to the naked eye.

Due to dilution, the pollution effects appear to be minimised, as at this stage Hamilton City have not picked up any lactose pollution in their monitoring equipment at the water treatment station.

“The lactose has not disappeared -- but it has become highly diluted since mixing with the Waikato River," says Environment Waikato's River and Catchment Group Manager, Scott Fowlds.

"The lactose entering the river is not expected to pose a major risk, as it is not considered toxic to human health. However it may have an effect on aquatic life."

Major downstream users of water, such as the Hamilton City’s water treatment station, Te Rapa dairy factory and the Huntly Power Station have been notified.

Environment Waikato staff will today be monitoring the river downstream of where the pollution entered near Hillcrest. In addition, monitoring will continue on the Mangaone Stream, where some dead eels have been found.

Investigations will be continuing to establish the reasons for the spill of the 500,000 litres from the Civil Whey Distributors facility, which polluted the Mangone Stream near Hautapu – and eventually fed into the Waikato River near Hamilton. It is too early to make any comment about any potential enforcement action at this stage.