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Govt contributes $1.5m to Patea site cleanup

Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister for the Environment

4 July 2008 Media Statement

Govt contributes $1.5m to Patea site cleanup

The government has recognised the importance of a safe environment for Patea’s residents by allocating $1.5 million towards a clean-up of the town’s contaminated old freezing works site, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

The former industrial site was badly damaged by fire in February.

"The clean-up is a priority now that a site investigation has revealed the extent of asbestos and heavy metals contamination. The people of Patea are rightly concerned about this hazardous blight on their town. Before the fire, we knew the site was contaminated and had set aside funding to find out how badly," Trevor Mallard said.

"But the blaze means the area now needs cleaning up as quickly as possible. So I am pleased to announce a special allocation that will account for 75 per cent of the estimated total clean-up cost," Trevor Mallard said.

The site borders an estuary ecosystem which has significant cultural value for local iwi. Though the contamination is temporarily contained by a special membrane, asbestos-laden ash left by the fire is a potential hazard.

"This clean-up is a good example of how central and local government can work in partnership to rid New Zealand of the worst abandoned contaminated sites," Trevor Mallard said.

The former freezing works site has divided ownership, between a private company (which has already cleaned up its 35 per cent holding), the Department of Conservation (1 per cent), South Taranaki District Council (19 per cent), and land (45 per cent) which was owned by a now-dissolved company. The secretary to the Treasury is now considering the matter of ownership of this part of the site.

Trevor Mallard says experts have estimated the $2 million clean-up could take 40 weeks. The project will be managed by the local councils and will involve input from health authorities and the Labour Department.


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