Two grape spillages in first week of harvest

Two trucks spilled grapes on Marlborough roads last week, as the first week of mechanical harvesting got underway.

Sergeant Michael Moloney, of the South Island Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit, said both spillages happened on Alabama Rd in Blenheim on Thursday last week.

One driver was slapped with an instant $600 fine for having an insecure load.

The truck company responsible for the second spill had yet to be identified, Moloney said.

Despite the rocky start, Moloney said he was keeping his fingers crossed for an improvement on the number of spills in Marlborough last year.

Marlborough taxpayers forked out $30,000 to clean up 45 grape spillages on the road last year - more than double the number of spills in 2013.

"Previous years were pretty diabolical, so I think things are looking pretty good so far," he said.

Those involved in harvest would begin doing double shifts this week, with trucks on the roads at all hours.

The intensive phase of the 2015 grape harvest began last week, although harvesting officially started in late February. It is expected to continue until mid to late April.

Moloney, along with Marlborough police officers, told wine workers at a pre-harvest meeting earlier this month that truck drivers needed to make sure their loads were secure. No grape spillage was acceptable.

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Marlborough Roads manager Frank Porter said it was too early to say how much the two spills had cost.

He said the spills were significant enough for roading contractor Heb Construction to respond immediately. The spills were absorbed rather than washed into the drains to keep the material out of streams and rivers, he said.

"We try to prevent any emergency discharge to streams hence the need to prevent entry into drains."

 - The Marlborough Express

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