Beached boat spills diesel into lake at Frankton

by Kim Bowden - Mar 07, 2023

A beached boat has leaked diesel into Lake Whakatipu at Frankton - the second pollution event in as many days in the area.

The regional council was called to the site yesterday and worked on damage control.

The Otago Regional Council's compliance manager Tami Sargeant says the team put an absorbent boom in the water around the boat as well as an additional "curtain" boom due to waves in the area.

"This has contained the diesel that was discharging."

The team is continuing to monitor the site and will replace the booms with new ones as needed, she says.

They're also continuing to work closely with the boat owner and the Queenstown Lakes District Council harbourmaster, she says.

"The boat owner has been able to straighten the vessel, and this has lessened the risk of further diesel getting into the water. The boat owner is planning to pump out any remaining diesel from the vessel."

Yesterday, the Queenstown Lakes District Council issued an alert on their Facebook page regarding the spill, warning people not to swim in the area.

However, it was too late for some locals, who reported a funny smell and taste after being in the water.

Crux is waiting for an update on whether the water is now safe to enter.

Health warning signs remain on Frankton Beach today (Tuesday, March 7, 2023) after a sewage leak was discovered on Sunday evening. The culprit: tree roots, the QLDC says.

Meanwhile, a little further along the lake's edge, sewage has made its way into the water making it unsafe for swimming for now.

On Sunday evening the QLDC announced the "unexpected" sewage flow into Lake Whakatipu near the public toilets on Frankton Beach.

"The overflow was due to a blockage caused by tree roots," the council explained in a Facebook post.

"The small amount of sewerage which entered the lake has now been cleaned up and water testing is underway. We recommend people avoid swimming in this area until a clear result is returned."

The public will be updated "when they've got the all clear".

The ORC says they were alerted of the sewage spill also, and when staff arrived at the scene on Sunday QLDC staff were already onsite and "taking appropriate action to rectify the issue".

Update, Wednesday, March 8: The public health warning signs have been removed from Frankton Beach at the site of the sewage leak, and the water is now considered safe for swimming, the QLDC says.

Main image (ORC): The vessel, 'Defiant', after being righted to minimise further spilling, and surrounded by oil booms.


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