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Catania demands inquiry into DWER response to Kirkalocka oil spill

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
The contaminated creek.
Camera IconThe contaminated creek. Credit: Facebook / Kirkalocka Station

A local MP has called for an inquiry to figure out what went wrong when an oil spill from a truck rollover seeped into the waterway at a nearby historic station in the Murchison.

North West Central MLA Vince Catania said an investigation was needed into the devastating Kirkalocka Station oil spill in a bid to determine how it was allowed to happen.

The truck roll over on Great Northern Highway on July 30 spilled 28,000 litres of waste oil into the creek system which flows through Kirkalocka Station, endangering native wildlife.

Owners Blair and Jared Ridley have all but suspended their business operations to focus on the clean-up.

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The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, along with the transport company responsible for the spill, has removed about 165,000 litres of contaminated water from the property, as well as 160 cubic metres of soil. Mr Catania says that is not good enough.

“I think the response has been slow ... the department need to urgently review the situation,” he said.

“I’ve spoken to the Minister (for Environment Amber-Jade Sanderson) to make her aware, and to make sure they protect the fragile environment.”

A spokesperson for the minister said DWER was closely monitoring each stage of the clean-up, and maintained open communication with station owners.

“Following an incident, the company responsible is required to take action to cease, contain, recover, and dispose of any unauthorised discharge or waste material, and report the incident to DWER,” the spokesperson said.

“DWER has advised these actions were taken by the company immediately.”

Mrs Ridley said the oil had now been removed from the creek system, but surrounding vegetation and soil were still contaminated.

“It’s made a considerable difference to the area visually, but also the smell has reduced significantly,” she said.

“When we get more rain, we’re expecting more oil to emerge.”

While the clean-up is progressing well, Mr Catania is concerned about a repeat incident.

“An inquiry is needed,” he said. “Given the amount of dangerous goods, like fuel and explosives ... what are the protocols?

“Were they acted upon, and were they sufficient?”

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