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Published: 2011-06-23 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council has now installed an oil containment boom near the Awakino boat ramp and sucker trucks are being used to extract oil there from the river.

The floating boom helps trap oil, which tends to stay on the surface when it gets into waterways.

The operation follows a 20,000 litre oil spill into the Awakino River yesterday after a tanker crash in the Awakino gorge.

Nine council staff are involved, assisted by the trucking company. Massey University and Department of Conservation specialists are assisting the operation to help respond to any wildlife affected by the spill.

Council staff went to the area last night so they could begin the containment and clean-up operation this morning.

An incident control room has also been set up at the council’s headquarters in Hamilton

The boom was installed at the Awakino boat ramp after an oil slick a half metre to a metre was sighted there this morning.

Checks are being carried out to see where else oil is in the river and whether booms could be used in any other locations.

Group manager Chris McLay said the spill had clear potential to hurt aquatic and marine life and pollute river banks and the coast.

“For this reason, we’ll be working hard to try and get any remaining oil out of the river if at all possible.”

Mr McLay urged people to stay away from the river while staff worked to manage the situation.

“We’d also advise people to stay away from the oil if they come across any on land. If they discover distressed animal or bird life they should advise the Department of Conservation.”