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Possibly no witch to hunt

by 3 Sep 2007Editorial0 comments

I can only imagine that friends of the Mahurangi will be feeling a range of emotions regarding the large quantity of diesel entering the river.

The diesel was noticed downstream by Warkworth residents on Wednesday morning and reported to the Auckland Regional Council.

About three hours later, booms were in place across the river and a major containment and dispersal response has been underway since, greatly assisted by the readiness of diesel fuel to evaporate.

On Wednesday afternoon, Rodney District Council’s stormwater asset manager, Kim Buchanan, thoughtfully informed Friends of the Mahurangi about the diesel, describing it as a leak of up to 10,000 litres at Hudson Road, which is possibly 4 kilometres upstream from Warkworth on the north branch of the Mahurangi River.

Nearly 24 hours later, while Auckland Regional Council would confirm the volume as 13,000 litres, the property involved would not be disclosed—investigations into the source, or sources, are ongoing, I was told.

As I commented at the time, Warkworth is a small town. And indeed, my partner was told the name of a company in the supermarket on the way home last night.

I believe that people are mostly fair-minded. As long as there is no attempt to shirk responsibility, or a failure to cooperate in the response, friends of the Mahurangi River will feel significant sympathy for the company involved.

The fact that a very specific volume has been quoted tends to indicate that the company is cooperating fully with the Auckland Regional Council response team, in spite of any inadvertent impression to the contrary that the official statements might convey.

I am guilty of having, from time to time in the past, allowed a small amount of two-stroke fuel to enter the Mahurangi Harbour—totally inexcusable cutting of corners during re-fuelling!

And, although I can’t recall a specific incident, I suspect I am possibly even guilty of having allowed a small amount of diesel fuel to enter the harbour.

I am not suggesting that some company, or some person, should not be prosecuted—under the law that is probably mandatory.

I do suggest, however, that the chances are there is no witch to hunt and that the river’s stakeholders, which includes the community, embrace those responsible and work together to restore the river—both from this current catastrophe but also from the river’s main ongoing pollutant: soil.

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