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Published: 2011-09-11 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council is appealing for help to locate the source of diesel which has spilled into the Waikato River on two occasions in recent days, near the St Andrews golf course in Hamilton.

On Thursday, a spill believed to involve several hundred litres of diesel appears to have been flushed out of the city’s storm water system into the river. Council staff used oil absorbing booms to collect some of the diesel but most of it ended up being swept down river. The council has had no reports of downstream problems following Thursday’s spill.

Then a second spill of about the same size was reported this afternoon after significant rain in Hamilton. The river was too high and swift today for staff to try to get the diesel out.

“We’re assuming that some diesel has somehow got into the storm water system recently and that today’s rain has flushed some more of it into the river,” said compliance and education manager Rob Dragten.

"The storm water system which discharges into the river near St Andrews collects water from much of Te Rapa and Avalon Drive, so the diesel could have come from anywhere in that area.

“Our inquiries so far haven’t been able to identify the source of the spills so we’re asking for public help to track it down. If anyone has any information about the source or how the diesel may have got into the storm water system we’d urge them to contact us on 0800 800 401.”

Mr Dragten said current river levels would help dilute today’s spill and help minimize any potential environmental damage it might cause.

"While diesel has a distinctive unpleasant odour and leaves visible rainbow sheening on the surface of the water, it generally evaporates reasonably easily and is expected to be gone quite quickly," Mr Dragten said.

“But it’s important we locate where this diesel is coming from so we can taken any necessary action to prevent further spills.”