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Published: 2011-06-23 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council operations to deal with an oil spill into the Awakino River will continue for the rest of the day and overnight, followed by an assessment tomorrow morning of what more needs to be done.

The clean up comes after an oil tanker crash in the Awakino gorge yesterday afternoon sent about 20,000 litres of oil into the river.

The council said earlier today that it appeared most of the oil had gone out to sea overnight and that an initial assessment indicated no major environmental impacts around the river mouth or on the coast.

For the rest of today, the council is looking at further improving the boom system trapping remaining river oil at the Awakino boat ramp. Trucks with sucker hoses are removing the oil once it is trapped. This extraction will continue overnight.

It is also planned to install a special boom at a bridge about four kilometres from the river mouth. This boom will absorb oil as well as trap it.

Where possible, boat propellers will be used to agitate any trapped oil sitting in the edges of the river so it will be sent down towards the booms.

Staff from the council, Massey University and the Department of Conversation will also be holding further discussions about additional environmental impact assessment work that has been carried out this afternoon. There is some concern that birds living in riverside reeds may have been harmed. If any animals or birds need particular care, arrangements are in place to evacuate them to Palmerston North.

Council group manager Chris McLay said staff from the council and other agencies would remain on site overnight and that an assessment of what more needs to be done will be carried out in the morning.

“Agencies have worked really well together to respond to this spill. We are hopeful that environmental impacts will be limited. But we want to make sure we carry out a thorough analysis tomorrow to ensure we make the right decisions about the future management of this incident.”