Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Dioxin test homes contaminated by Whakatane floods

5 October 2004
Dioxin test homes contaminated by Whakatane floods

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is calling for dioxin testing in Whakatane homes flooded in July with water that had passed through contaminated sites.

In the House this afternoon Ms Fitzsimons asked Environment Minister Marion Hobbs how the Government was supporting efforts to identify and alleviate dioxin contamination spread by the floods.

"The Minister did not answer whether any dioxin monitoring is being done and as far as the Greens have been able to find out no homes or gardens are being tested," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party's Environment Spokesperson.

"Ms Hobbs did confirm that several dioxin-contaminated sites in the Whakatane area were flooded. We know of at least seven.

"The CBD was sandbagged to protect it from the overflowing Whakatane River, but that move diverted floodwaters that had passed through the Matatua toxic dump site into a nearby housing area. If contamination is found in that area it must be cleaned up and temporary alternative accommodation found for residents.

"There are at least 30 known sites in the district where dioxin-contaminated waste from the old Whakatane Board Mill was dumped, but none of them are on the Minister's clean-up list. Sawmill Workers Against Poisons (SWAP) has already highlighted the poor health suffered by former workers at that Mill.

"While it would be Environment Bay of Plenty's role to monitor homes and carry out any clean up, they are unlikely to be able to manage the task without some central government support. Ms Hobbs did say her Ministry is working with the regional council to clean up two sites at local marae. However these are not being remediated, only capped with soil. The tangata whenua are banned from taking underground water, planting trees or putting down hangi.

"The Greens are disturbed that there is still no national register of contaminated sites, which exist all over the country. When challenged on this today the Minister repeated her previous stance - it is left to regional councils. There should be a national register so people can find out what health and economic risks they are exposed to. For instance, if flooding were to spread dioxin contamination over farmland meat and dairy exports would be at risk from adverse market reaction.

"In turn, there should be a nationwide risk assessment process in order to prioritise clean up. This should take into account the likelihood of extreme events such as floods and earthquakes spreading the contamination around, with sites on flood plains and coastal areas near fisheries given priority.

"Ironically, until last year each annual statement of the Crown's financial position listed contaminated sites as an un-quantified contingent liability. That at least reminded us of the ticking time bomb and the need to defuse it. However that item is gone from the latest set of accounts, instead being buried in a broad category of 'environmental risks'. Just because the Government has found a way of burying it will not make it go away," said Ms Fitzsimons.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>


Corrections Corrected: Supreme Court Rules On Release Dates

Corrections has always followed the lawful rulings of the Court in its calculation of sentence release dates. On four previous occasions, the Court of Appeal had upheld Corrections’ practices in calculating pre-sentence detention. More>>


Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>


General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>


Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news