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Cleaner land at Mapua at expense of air and water

29 July 2008

Cleaner land at Mapua at the expense of air and water

The Green Party is concerned that the clean up of the Mapua site near Nelson has probably come at the expense of further contamination of air and water.

The conclusion of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report, published today, shows that during the remediation work a variety of toxins may have been released to air and into water in the Waimea Estuary, Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

The decision to remediate the soil at the site to a higher level so it could be used for residential purposes was clearly made on financial grounds. That land will now have a much higher value to council, but what is the cost of the contamination to the air and water that may have been caused in the process?

"I visited the site with the Local Government and Environment Select Committee during the clean up. I was disturbed at the strong smell of agricultural chemicals emanating from the processing plant, showing that the chemicals were leaching into the air.

"I was also disturbed to see that right alongside the site families were eating lunch at an open air restaurant.

"One of the main reasons for the original decision to clean up the site was that it was leaching toxins into the estuary. It appears that the use of a copper reagent in the process may be leading to additional toxins entering the water. The report also found that ground water contamination is still high.

"It is very concerning that the Government's own agency for administering the Resource Management Act - the Ministry for the Environment - breached resource consents on a number of occasions, and it seems possible they did so knowingly.

"It is vital lessons are learnt from this case and that new, more stringent procedures for decision-making and implementation for decontamination projects are developed," Ms Fitzsimons says.


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