Wildlife advocate Michelle Jones says ongoing effects from Kirkalocka oil spill may be felt for next 25 years

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A turtle rescued by Geraldton Greenough Wildlife Rescue at Kirkalocka Creek.
Camera IconA turtle rescued by Geraldton Greenough Wildlife Rescue at Kirkalocka Creek. Credit: GG Wildlife Rescue

A local wildlife advocate fears a Murchison pastoral station with a waterway devastated by a nearby oil spill will be affected by the incident for many years to come.

The historic Kirkalocka pastoral station has continued to battle a flood of 28,000 litres of waste oil from a nearby creek after a truck carrying the oil rolled on Great Northern Highway on July 30.

Bookings for the popular farm stay on the property, 60km south of Mount Magnet, have had to be cancelled while owners Jared and Blair Ridley focus on the clean-up.

Crayfish and yabbies pulled from the oil spill which polluted Kirkalocka Creek.
Camera IconCrayfish and yabbies pulled from the oil spill which polluted Kirkalocka Creek. Credit: GG Wildlife Rescue

Geraldton Greenough Wildlife Rescue operator Michelle Jones travelled to the station last week after hearing about the disaster, saying it didn’t take long patrolling the polluted creek to find turtles, freshwater crays, fish, native birds and insects dead or dying, covered with oil.

She believes thousands of animals have been affected, including kangaroos which use the creek as their water source, and native birds which are in the middle of breeding season and need to feed insects to their young every 15 minutes.

“There’s a huge biodiversity area of fauna and native flora that’s out there that actually relies on this creek system for water,” she said.

“There’s many thousands of insects which feed a lot of the insectivorous birds out there, so there’s a knock-on effect from this spill. It will affect generations to come.

“There’s red kangaroos and wallaroos up on the station and you can actually see their marks in the oil where they’ve come to the water’s edge and then realise that their drinking source is no longer there, it’s covered in oil.”

Insects covered in oil from the spill which polluted Kirkalocka Creek.
Camera IconInsects covered in oil from the spill which polluted Kirkalocka Creek.

While the accident occurred on July 30, Ms Jones said it was not attended to by the company involved until three days later.

Kirkalocka’s owners were alerted to the incident via text message.

Ms Jones said the environmental disaster could have been avoided if there had been earlier communication from the tanker company to the Ridleys.

“As far as I’m concerned (the trucking company) only jumped on to a lot of the clean-up after it was heavily in the media,” she said. “Blair and Jared who run Kirkalocka are an amazing couple who put their heart and soul into this place ... and turned this beautiful place into a tourism area.

“These guys had to put this call out on social media because nobody else was hearing them.

Jared Ridley cleans up the oil spill.
Camera IconJared Ridley cleans up the oil spill. Credit: Facebook/Kirkalocka Station

“The ongoing effect could be something they’re looking at for up to 20, 25 years ... it’s something that needs to be monitored.”

Once all the wildlife is rescued and cleared from the creek, vacuum trucks will come and drain what can’t be absorbed by hand.

Until then, the Ridleys are being helped by an environmental lawyer and experts who are on site caring for affected wildlife while they continue to clean up what they can of the spill by hand.

Ms Jones said donations to the recovery effort could be made by contacting the station via email.

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