Kirkalocka Station owners “in the dark” about oil spill clean up plan

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
GG Wildlife Rescue and Kirkalocka Station staff cleaning up an oil spill in a creek running through the property.
Camera IconGG Wildlife Rescue and Kirkalocka Station staff cleaning up an oil spill in a creek running through the property.

The oil tanker roll-over on July 30, which spilled 28,000 litres of waste oil into the historic Kirkalocka Station, will have lasting implications for owners Blair and Jared Ridley. Yet, they are “massively in the dark with this whole process.”

The clean-up started three weeks ago, and in that time the Ridleys have had no contact with the transport company responsible, or any government ministers.

“We’ve pushed and pushed… we haven’t stopped calling.” Mrs Ridley said.

Despite this, the effort continues from the pastoralists to clean up the contaminated creek system. With no big picture, they and a team of environmental experts from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation can only focus on the present, where oil is beginning to be pumped out.

DWER estimates 97,000 litres of oil and oily water have been removed, three times the capacity of the truck that caused the spill. They have also removed 80m3 of contaminated soil.

“It’s definitely more positive this week.” Mrs Ridley said.

Although positive is relative. The station owners said they are still finding countless dead native animals on the property.

“Apart from turtles, everything we’ve found has been deceased. Fish, yabbies, birds, insects, you name it.”

Along with the environmental impact the spill has also wrought havoc on farm operations, which have all but halted. Bookings for the station’s farm stay have had to be cancelled, as well as plans to expand to cattle.

“(The creek is) integral to our stocking of cattle plan, which has been put off.”

Days after the spill, Geraldton-Greenough Wildlife Rescue operator Michelle Jones estimated the recovery could take as long as 25 years. However, environmental consultants engaged by the transport company are still assessing the impacts, and are yet to give a definitive timeframe.

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