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Quick action soaks up oil spill

Quick action soaks up oil spill

July 16, 2004

North Shore City Council staff worked quickly this week to stop an oil spill polluting the inner harbour.

An estimated 15 litres of used engine oil was soaked up in Northboro Stream before it reached the mangroves.

Pollution prevention co-ordinator, Rowan Carter, says a 20-litre can of old engine oil, presumably collected from someone changing their oil at home, had been placed on the roadside berm in Hororata St, Takapuna for the city's inorganic rubbish collection.

"It would appear that some youngsters were playing on the roadside on Monday (July 12), knocked over the can and most of the oil spilled into the gutter, down the cesspit and into the local stream.

"Fortunately we were alerted to the spill by a local resident and we minimised the impact on the stream and stopped almost all of the oil from entering the mangroves - both highly sensitive parts of our environment," he says.

The council's team - helped by the local resident who sounded the alarm - spent six hours soaking up the spill, using special oil-absorbent materials.

Mr Carter says this clean-up will be on-going as the residual oil in the drains will take some time to completely flush through the system.

"We're keeping a close eye on the stream discharge to ensure that the oil does not reach the mangroves, harming fish and birdlife which live and feed in the area," says the environmental scientist.

Anyone found responsible for such pollution is liable for an instant fine of up to $750 or even prosecution.

In this instance it was unclear who was responsible for placing the oil on the berm, says Rowan Carter.

"Sadly, this type of pollution regularly occurs as a result of people mistakenly putting out their household hazardous waste on the kerbside for inorganic rubbish collection. The berm is next to the stormwater system and anything that flows into a stormwater drain will eventually end up in our streams, Lake Pupuke or on the beach.

"A few months back, paint tins were left out for the inorganic collection in Glenfield and were tipped over into a stormwater drain which flows into the Wairau Stream and onto Milford Beach.

"People have to remember that the inorganic rubbish collection is for hard rubbish, such as old furniture and appliances, not for any liquids or gases. Paints, solvents, chemicals, old gas bottles and other hazardous wastes will not be picked up if left out in the inorganic collection. Not only are these substances potentially damaging to the environment, but they could also harm children at play.

"If people are serious about protecting our environment and keeping our city safe, they should not place these items out on the roadside for this collection.

"People who want to get rid of their household hazardous wastes such as used oil, paint, batteries and old gas bottles should take them to the next HazMobile collection where they can be dropped off for free."

The next collection date in North Shore City is Saturday, September 25 in Rawene Rd, Birkenhead. People are invited to call North Shore City Council's Actionline on 486 8600 if they have any questions about the popular Hazmobile service or to report any pollution incidents.

ENDS

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