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The Blitz Is Back

The Blitz Is Back
March 11, 2004

The second in a series of joint North Shore City Council and Auckland Regional Council (ARC) pollution prevention audits of North Shore City businesses is returning within a fortnight.

Officers from both councils will arrive unannounced at hundreds of commercial and industrial premises in the Wairau industrial area in a staged 'blitz' programme to stop pollution and to identify other problem areas before they can harm the environment.

The Wairau Valley area has been chosen because of its large number of industrial and commercial premises and the high rate of reported pollution incidents from there.

"Approximately 16 per cent of reported pollution incidents received by us last year were traced to activities in the Wairau Valley, which is significantly more than other areas," says North Shore City works and environment committee chairperson, Joel Cayford.

Councillor Cayford says the primary focus is on preventing pollution entering the environment through the stormwater system.

"We aim to work with businesses to dispose of waste appropriately and prevent spills running into the stormwater system. The audits will have a strong emphasis on helping businesses understand the impact their activities can have on the environment," he says.

"By their very nature, these council audits will be unannounced. Council will not formally warn businesses about impending visits. We want council staff to see their 'every day' operation.

"The council needs to address these problems before they occur, rather than acting as the proverbial ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

"We did our first audit in 2001 at Birkenhead and we visited more than 100 commercial and light industrial businesses. During the blitz, four pollution problems were resolved, seven potential pollution incidents were avoided and three contaminated sites were found and fixed."

North Shore City's pollution prevention officer, Rowan Carter, says he is particularly interested in businesses with activities that involve using materials such as solvents, oils, paints and other chemicals that can harm the environment.

"We frequently come across businesses washing their waste into a stormwater drain despite knowing that it will end up in local streams and on our beaches," says the environmental scientist.

"We often see accidental spills being washed away with a hose, causing toxic pollution to run into the drain on the side of the road and into our stormwater system, which can kill wildlife in our waterways.

"Accidents will happen and businesses should be prepared for a spill by having a plan of action to prevent stormwater contamination," Mr Carter says.

Those found causing water pollution face imprisonment for up to two years or a maximum fine of $200,000.

Eventually Rowan Carter would like to see an increasing number of businesses become more environmentally responsible.

The ARC has a comprehensive information folder called the Environmental Operations Plan, which provides businesses with a simple series of checklists enabling them to audit their own business practices which affect the environment.

North Shore City business owners with questions about pollution prevention or the Environmental Operations Plan can contact either Rowan Carter on 486 8600 or a pollution officer from the ARC on 377 3107.

(ends)

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