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Bird response ramped up at Awakino

update at 1215
Massey University, Department of Conservation and Waikato Regional Council are ramping up their wildlife response at Awakino after investigations this morning showed more birdlife has been affected by an oil spill than initially thought.

Checks this morning showed that up to 20 shags, terns and ducks in the coastal marine area had been lightly oiled.

More university and DoC staff will go to the area today to help with the wildlife response and an incident control centre is being set up at the Awakino Hotel.

The extra staff will further assess the scale of the wildlife impacts and birds that require help may be caught and transferred to a university facility in Palmerston North for de-oiling.

Meanwhile, the regional council said that there now appears to be little oil in the river itself, with most of it either flushed out to sea or caught by a boom and sucker truck operation set up at the Awakino boat ramp. Another boom has been installed at a bridge four kilometres from the coast. These booms will remain in place for several days as there is still a light oil sheen on the river. Checks this morning up to three kilometres from the river mouth have not uncovered any significant patches of remaining oil in the river or on the banks.

“The focus of our operation is now primarily on affected wildlife,” said regional council group manager Scott Fowlds.

“We will be keeping the local community and other stakeholders informed about this change of focus and provide updates on what is happening.”

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