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High rate of recovery following chemical fire

Media Release Wednesday 8 March 2006
High rate of recovery

Contractors have been working long hours to clean up the Kaiapo and Southland Drains following the VJ Distributor fire on Saturday 4 March.

Approximately 480,000 litres of contaminated sludge and liquid has been removed from the Kaiapo Drain and the area surrounding the fire scene and treated since clean up began. Initial volume estimates from the contractor indicate that approximately 140,000 litres of oil has been recovered which is thought to be a considerable portion of the quantity discharged.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council staff are extremely pleased with this level of recovery.

Further mechanical cleaning of the drains will still be required to remove the oil which has soaked into the bed material and still coats the vegetation on the drain banks.

Those drain cleanings and the contaminated soil that has been stockpiled on the neighbouring property has now been cleared for disposal at the Omarunui Landfill following a review of the list of chemical products that were stored on the site. Removal of the stockpiled material will get underway today.

A report from ESR to the Hawkes Bay District Health Board confirms that produce growing in a limited area under the direct smoke pass may have been affected by soot or other deposits or which have acquired a taint (oily or smoky smell or taste) from fumes should be discarded.

Produce without a taint or visible deposits can be regarded as safe, however, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board advises fruit and vegetables should always be washed or peeled before eating. It is estimated that approximately five orchards may have been directly under the smoke pass.

The Regional Council further suggests that householders should be using warm soapy water to clean their houses and to continue to direct that wash-water to grassy areas.


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