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Published: 2012-06-09 00:00:00

A Waikato Regional Council investigation is underway into the circumstances surrounding an apparently accidental discharge of oil into the Waikato River near Claudelands Bridge earlier today.

Shortly before 10.30am a member of the public reported seeing what appeared to be a large amount of oil dischargingfrom a stormwater outlet near the bridge.

Trained oil spill response staff from the regional council were deployed to the river.

“Because the stormwater outlet is located at the bottom of a sheer bank, we have been unable to immediately deploy absorbent booms,” said council compliance and education manager Rob Dragten.

“A harbourmaster vessel has been launched and from that our oil spill responders are assessing the extent of the spill and whether booms can be safely and effectively deployed,” Mr Dragten said. 

Meanwhile, Hamilton City Council staff have been working to track the source of the oil through the stormwater system. As a result, the source has been tracked to a central city location.

“A concentrated amount of oil has been located in a stormwater drain, so trucks are being brought in by Hamilton City Council to suck it out to prevent further oil discharging into the river.

An investigation into the accidental discharge is being carried out by the regional council. A decision on any legal action will be made upon completion of the investigation.

The regional council has been in contact with Waikato River stakeholders, including Waikato-Tainui and key industry water users downstream.

“Any discharge of oil into our stormwater system, and therefore into our waterways, is unacceptable,” Mr Dragten said.

“While we are not expecting any significant environmental effects as a result of this particular accidental discharge, the cumulative effect of multiple discharges contributes to overall lower water quality in the river, which is concerning.

“It is a reminder of the responsibility we all have to be extra careful about what enters our stormwater system, because it does ultimately end up in our rivers and streams,” he said.