5km paint spill marks road

The five-kilometre paint spill runs the entire length of Shakespeare St and onto Tirau Rd.

Waipa District Council has decided not to clean up a five-kilometre paint spill stretching the entire length of Shakespeare St because it would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

The spill happened around lunchtime on Friday when two distinct trails of white, water-based paint leaked onto the road from a private trailer owner by a painter-decorator.

“It was completely unintentional,” said Waipa District Council contracts engineer Jason O’Dea.

The driver of the trailer contacted council as soon as he realised what had happened and offered to do whatever he could to help.

“He was mortified and did the right thing.”

The council assessed the spill on Friday and decided not to clean it up because it would have cost “tens of thousands of dollars”.

“The paint spill covered an area of about five kilometres, traversing a number of intersections,” Mr O’Dea said.

“To clean that up, we would have been required to bring in extensive traffic control, closing lanes in sections at a time.  And ideally, we would have needed to do that on a Friday afternoon, potentially causing huge traffic disruption to Cambridge at extremely short notice.

“We were also concerned that using high-pressure blasting to clean up the paint would have damaged the road surface, creating further problems.”

The council reassessed the situation on Monday morning, trial cleaning a small section of the road, but stuck with its original decision to let the paint wear off over time.

“It’s not ideal, but on balance we don’t believe this unintentional spill warrants spending tens of thousands of dollars on something that will eventually disappear,” Mr O’Dea said.

“We’re trying to be pragmatic and sensible and we think this is the right approach.  Further, we wouldn’t want to discourage anyone else from reporting an incident if it was perceived they would be landed with excessive costs as a result of being honest and forthcoming.”

He said there was no environmental impact from the spill, as the road was warm and dry on Friday and the paint dried in less than an hour.

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