Pollution response concerns

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A recent oil spill in Queenstown’s CBD has highlighted the fact the resort no longer has a pollution response trailer.

Earlier this month, about five litres of oil spilt from a bus when it hit a bollard while swerving around a car parked on yellow lines at the bottom of Duke Street.

The spill was worsened by heavy rain falling at the time, though it’s believed the bus company did a good job cleaning up the mess.

Citing this incident, former deputy mayor, Queenstowner Simon Hayes, says “it just seems incongruous to me that we no longer have a pollution response unit”.

Pollution spills that enter stormwater drains in central Queenstown invariably end up in Lake Wakatipu, as do any contaminants entering Horne Creek.

Asked his response, local council infrastructure boss Peter Hansby says: “We are having some discussions with Otago Regional Council about the provision of a pollution response trailer here, but we also have contracts which cover off pollution response, so we would expect our contractors to have access to most things that would be required for a pollution response.”

He notes those contractors are Downer, which looks after pavement surfaces, and Veolia, which is responsible for the wastewater system.

“Generally speaking, I would expect Veolia to take the lead because they are more familiar with dealing with potential dangerous substances.”

Hansby says one area the council needs to investigate further is acquiring a boom that could contain discharges into the lake, for example.

Meanwhile, councillor Alexa Forbes says she’s not aware what system’s in place, but says “I always am upset when we have evidence of anything untoward heading into the lake”.

If anyone had concerns about the system, “I’ll certainly look into it”.