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Prompt Action Prevents Oil Spill Spreading

Prompt action prevents oil spill spreading
August 20, 2004

An observant council worker helped prevent an oil spill from spreading into North Shore City's stream network and the inner harbour yesterday.

He noticed the slick on the stormwater pond at the corner of Douglas Alexander Pde and Rosedale Rd in Albany and promptly called in pollution prevention colleagues.

North Shore City pollution prevention officer, Rowan Carter, says both his team and that from Auckland Regional Council swung into action immediately.

"Five officers got out there with specialist absorbent equipment and mopped up about 50 litres of what appeared to be engine oil," he says.

"It had spread about 200 metres down one side of the pond, smothering and killing vegetation on the edge."

Most of the oil was cleaned up yesterday, but staff were back today removing any residue.

Mr Carter says the oil had likely come down stormwater pipes into the pond sometime during the previous week. Unfortunately heavy weather had washed away any trace of where the oil had come from.

"That means we can't go back and educate the culprit, let alone give them an instant fine of $1000, or prosecute them for up to $200,000 or two years in jail," he says.

Had the oil not been contained in the pond, it would have travelled down Oteha Valley Stream and contaminated that too.

"Enough environmental damage was done anyway, but if the oil had got into the stream network it could have been much more devastating - this stuff poisons the plant, insect and fish life and can destroy biological habitats. Streams can take years to recover from a spill like this one," says Mr Carter.

"Under no circumstances should waste oil, or any other pollution be poured into a stormwater drain," he says.

Mr Carter advises people to take their oil and other hazardous waste to the HazMobile collection points. Businesses producing waste must also dispose of it responsibly.

"There are several oil recovery contractors around who provide a collection service for used oil so there's no excuse," he says.

If anyone has any information about how this oil spill may have occurred, or to report any pollution issues, please call Actionline on 486 8600 or the Auckland Regional Council pollution hotline on 377 3107.


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