Culprit owns up to spill

01:20, Aug 30 2012

An Invercargill company has admitted used engine oil that ended up in the Waihopai River last week came from a storage container on its premises.

Environment Southland was alerted to the spill, near Beatrice St, on the night of August 21 and used a boom and sucker truck to remove as much oil as possible from the river.

Compliance officer Chris McMillan said it was pleasing the company, which is about 1km from the river, had come forward after publicity about the spill.

The company admitted the discharge came from a 1000 litre thin-skinned plastic container being used to store used engine oil that had ruptured and leaked into a stormwater drain, Mr McMillan said.

''The company believed the drain that was capturing the oil led to a foul-sewer sump when it was instead flowing into a stormwater drain. Nothing other than clean stormwater should be going through the stormwater reticulation system."

Contaminants like oil must be kept in a manner that meets industry standards, which include storage in double-skinned containers or within a bunded area to capture any discharges, he said.

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"People need to be meticulous about any contaminants on trade and industrial sites because if they escape they can have a significant effect on the environment."

The costs involved in the response, including cleaning the pipes, would be passed on to the company, Mr McMillan said.

No decision had yet been made on any further punitive action.

Environment Southland's Pollution Prevention team can offer businesses advice on how to remedy any issues they might have and help increase environmental performance.

The Council also has a 24-hour pollution hotline (0800 76 88 45) for anyone to report incidents.

The Southland Times