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Published: 2011-06-27 00:00:00

update at 1515hrs
Environmental monitoring of the Awakino river and coastal marine area is set to continue after the end of an oil spill clean-up involving the Waikato Regional Council, Department of Conservation (DoC), Massey University, and trucking company Transpacific.

The clean-up operation began after one of the company’s trucks crashed in the Awakino gorge last Wednesday.

While around 3000 litres of the truck’s load was recovered at the site, about 21,000 litres of oil are thought to have spilled into the river, with most of it washed out to sea on Wednesday night.

Recovery operations on the river also managed to successfully suck up about another 3000 litres of oil between Thursday and yesterday.

DoC, university and regional council staff also noticed about a dozen lightly oiled birds, including ducks, shags and terns in the area.

However, by yesterday there was very little oil remaining in the river and on its banks, and it was judged that it was too difficult to catch any birds for de-oiling as they were not badly affected, said the council’s regional on-scene commander Adam Munro.

“We have now removed our oil capturing booms from the river and the wildlife team from Massey University has returned to Palmerston North.

“However, Transpacific is planning to do some beach remediation work near the Awakino boat ramp and agencies will develop a monitoring programme to keep an eye on the river and wildlife over the next few weeks.

“Our advice is that fish won’t die as a result of the oil spill, and will excrete any oil they’ve absorbed within a few weeks. But, in the meantime, people should avoid eating any fish or shellfish that smell of oil.”

Mr Munro said the agencies and the trucking company had worked together well after the spill. “Thankfully the environment impact of the spill appears to have been fairly low. But we will monitor the situation in case there’s anything more we need to do.”