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Published: 2008-04-07 00:00:00

Environment Waikato and Hamilton City Council are to help shift more than 200,000 litres of contaminated liquids and sludge away from the site of the still burning Tamahere industrial fire.

After the fire broke out on Saturday, Environment Waikato staff went to the site to carry out the regional council’s primary role in this disaster of ensuring that the health of waterways are protected.

Liquids and fats had moved via the building’s drainage system towards a water course close to the building. The water course is currently dry due to the region’s drought.

Environment Waikato arranged for sucker trucks to start removing material from the water course on Saturday night and on Sunday created an earth dam to prevent more pollution of the water course.

“We believe that since we commenced this work no more contaminant has entered the water course,” said resource use group manager Dennis Crequer.

The collected fatty run off from the water course had initially been put in a paddock but then it was shifted to large containment ponds dug beside the burning plant. The ponds are continuing to be filled with contaminated water run-off from the fire fighting operation and other waste material, and a digger is on stand-by if more holes are needed.

Mr Crequer said that this quick action has averted any significant pollution of the Waikato River as a result of the fire.

Hamilton City Council has confirmed it is able to dispose of a majority of the waste liquid and sludge through the city wastewater system, and Environment Waikato is arranging its transfer to that system in tankers.

“Hamilton City Council has been extremely helpful in assisting us to deal with this problem,” said Mr Crequer.

It was estimated the ponds currently held more than 200,000 litres of contaminated liquid and sludge.

Mr Crequer said the fact that it had been dry had helped stop the spread of contaminated material from the site via water courses.