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Sewage spill requires government response

27 April 2006

Sewage spill requires government response, say Greens

"It is irresponsible of Environment Minister David Benson-Pope to wash his hands of the latest sewage spill in the Bay of Islands," Green Party MP Sue Bradford says..

"When 3,000 cubic metres of raw sewage are allowed to spill out onto beaches and shellfish beds, central government must be willing to take a more pro-active role.

" This is the second sewage spill in this district in the last few months.

" When local councils are unable to stop the problem from recurring - as seems to be the case here - then central government must become more pro-active. We cannot afford to leave local councils and residents to cope as best they can, after a catastrophe has occurred.

"We are not talking here merely about the pollution done to beach and river eco-systems, serious though that is.

"Many people in Northland depend on these shellfish beds for their livelihood. About 30 per cent of the local oyster-farming industry has been forced to close because of the recent spills.

"The shellfish are also a valuable food source, for many people on low incomes in the North. It is totally unacceptable that government inaction now exposes people in Northland to the health risks associated with this kind of contamination," Ms Bradford says.

"Mr Benson-Pope is also wrong in saying the latest spill was due to human error. Human error may have prevented the early detection of the spill, but the spill itself was due to a leaking section of pipeline now estimated to cost $3.6 million to replace.

"This faulty pipeline highlights the dangers that communities all around the country now face from decaying infra-structure, " Ms Bradford says.

"In the North, this problem will only worsen, as massive development and sub-division put even more strain on an ageing sewage system.

"Councils need to put up their plans for replacing the ageing and decayed pipelines in their district in the sure knowledge that the Government will be listening sympathetically, and placing more money on the table," Ms Bradford says.

ENDS

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