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Published: 2003-11-20 00:00:00

Environment Waikato Ready Response staff will be cleaning up for the next day or so after a spill of transformer oil close to the Waitakaruru Stream near Morrinsville early this morning.

The oil spilled from a railway bladder containing 20,000 litres of transformer oil at the Morrinsville Railway Yards. The bladder may have been tampered with, and police are investigating oily footprints nearby.

The oil spilled close to a drain flowing near the Piako River, but collected mostly on dry soil and grassy areas nearby. Some did flow into the creek and the major problem is pumping out oily water and disposing of it safely.

The flow was contained with booms and a sucker truck is being used to collect the oil and water. Environment Waikato spokesman Barry Campbell said the oil was a light, mineral-based new transformer oil, which was almost transparent with no odour. Most of the load escaped in a rush and would have covered the person tampering with it.

About two thirds went into the dry area near the drain and is lying in pools or stuck on grass. The spill would take months to degrade but was known not to be harmful to the environment as its toxicity was low, he said.

“We’re dealing with a mess rather than danger. Tranzrail have been very helpful and their environmental person has arrived from Auckland to assist with the clean-up.”