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World Oceans Day - but little to celebrate

8 June 2005

It's World Oceans Day - but we have little to celebrate

Today is World Oceans Day - but New Zealanders have little to celebrate when blood and guts are still being pumped into our sea, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

The PPCS meat processing plant at Pareora, south of Timaru, has consent to discharge up to 15,000 cubic metres of wastewater per day into the South Pacific Ocean. During peak killing time between 10,000 and 12,000 cubic metres goes into the sea each day.

"The wastewater is only given primary treatment, in other words it sits in a settling pond for a short time before it is pumped into the sea.

"Over the past couple of years the company has repeatedly breached the conditions on the disposal consent, which include limits on the total amount of solids in the wastewater, the pH level and the faecal coliform bacteria count at certain distances from the outfall.

That consent expires on 30 June this year, and the company has asked to be allowed to continue using the outfall for at least some of its waste disposal, meaning the red tide of blood and guts might be seen off the coast of Pareora for years to come.

"PPCS has bought 250 hectares of land and intends to discharge its wastewater to that land, but this area is likely to be barely enough at certain times of the year when wastewater production is high - presumably that is why they want to still be allowed to dispose of the waste into the sea.

Environment Canterbury should not allow wastewater to be discharged into the sea unless it has been treated to such a level that it is of the same or better quality than when it was extracted for use, she says

There are numerous less environmentally damaging options available to the company. These include: the purchasing a larger piece of land to ensure it doesn't need to dump blood and guts in the sea, a large storage pond that can hold the effluent when it cannot be applied to the land; or better still, a large scale anaerobic biodigester to kill bacteria in the waste before it is applied to land, Ms Fitzsimons says.

"It's appalling that this archaic kind of waste disposal is still being practiced. It is something one would expect to have happened in 1905 - not 2005."

ENDS

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