Cleanup underway after oil spills into lake

Sullivan Lake, Whakatane. Photo / APN
Sullivan Lake, Whakatane. Photo / APN

A cleanup has been underway at Whakatane's Sullivan Lake after about 20 litres of oil flowed into the lake through stormwater pipes last weekend.

Following a complaint from a concerned lakeside resident on Saturday morning, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Pollution Prevention staff found the oil had entered the lake through the urban stormwater system, possibly originating from a light industrial area to the south of Whakatane, Regional Council Pollution Prevention Team Leader Steve Pickles said.

"Staff have spent in excess of 20 hours containing and cleaning up the oil using absorbent booms, peat and pads. Add the cost of the gear used with the staff time involved, and it has ended up being a very costly incident for our ratepayers."

Staff contracted Transpacific to use their sucker truck to remove the contained oil from the lake yesterday.

However, there could still be some oil sheen around the lake visible for the next few days, as small amounts are released from vegetation surrounding the lake, Mr Pickles said.

"It is vitally important that industrial sites and residents properly manage and dispose of their hydrocarbon waste to ensure it does not pollute our waterways," he said.

"This incident is really disappointing, considering the amount of time and resources being spent on improving the water quality of Sullivan's Lake by the local community".

He said Regional Council and Whakatane District Council staff have been planning a joint project to inspect high-risk sites in the Whakatane area where discharges could affect water quality.

Site inspections are planned in the next couple of months, he said.

- APNZ

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