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Published: 2005-01-28 00:00:00

Environment Waikato will cause its own oil spill in the Waikato River next Tuesday – but there’ll be no harm done to the environment.

The spill is a test to develop one of the challenges for the Great E-Scape on March 5. The Great E-scape is a one-day environmental adventure organised by Environment Waikato as part of the annual Festival of the Environment, which runs from March 5-20.

One of the challenges E-scape teams will have to face is using oil spill booms to clean up an ‘oil spill’ in the river as though it had come from a truck crash on the riverbank.

During Tuesday’s test spill near Ferrybank, staff will trial releasing a small amount of untreated sawdust and ping pong balls in the river to see which one will give participants the most realistic experience. Untreated sawdust has been used for oil spill training exercises, has no environmental effects and will do no harm in the water. A crew will be on hand to ensure all balls and sawdust are recovered from the river.

Environment Waikato is responsible for managing oil spills into rivers and around coasts in the Region as they can cause serious damage to the environment, animal and plant life. The Council works with other agencies to prevent and plan for oil spills to minimise the effects.

The E-Scape was a great success as the launch event for last year’s Festival, with 20 teams working their way from Taupo to Hamilton undergoing environmental tests and challenges. This year the event will cover Waipa and Hamilton areas. Teams can register by calling Environment Waikato’s Freephone 0800 800 401.

The Festival of the Environment is co-ordinated by Environment Waikato and Hamilton City Council and aims to encourage people to understand the pressures threatening our environment and the things they can do at home and work to make a difference.

Other events throughout the 16-day festival include the popular Trash to Fashion Show, Hamilton City Council’s ‘Big Float’ down the Waikato River in tyre inner tubes, guided bush walks, gully and zoo tours, an open day at Arapuni Power Station, a tour of sustainable businesses, a field trip to revegetation sites along the Waikato River, a vintage bike eco-tour and an environmental youth conference.

A diary of all events is available from Environment Waikato or Hamilton City Council and on the web – www.explorefestival.co.nz