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Mapua report exposes emerging eco crisis: Greens

11 December 2008

Mapua report exposes emerging eco crisis: Greens

The independent report into the Ministry for the Environment's handling of the Mapua contaminated site clean up confirms bad decisions were made and the community has been exposed to the risk of further contamination, says Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty.

"The Bell report clearly identifies flawed processes and vindicates the position taken by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment over this issue.

"However there is 'an elephant in the room' which no one is addressing. During the clean up process chemicals from the contaminated site were spread further into the air and water around the site.

"This supposed clean up procedure also produced dioxins. The level of risk to the community and the environment in the area near the site needs to be properly assessed," Ms Delahunty says.

"The Bell report makes excellent points about the unclear legal issues around liability and contaminated site process management, but the Green Party is extremely concerned about the basic approach of the Ministry for the Environment towards persistent organic pollutants.

"The Ministry appear to have discouraged Tasman District Council from testing for dioxins because they were concerned about public perceptions of risk. Given that dioxins and other organochlorine chemicals are as dangerous to humans and the food chain as nuclear waste, they should have taken a more responsible approach.

"We are also concerned that the Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith is saying the site is safer than previously. It is true that the contaminated soils on site have been diluted but the area around the site may well be more polluted than ever."

Ms Delahunty says Mapua is one of many highly-contaminated orphan sites across the country and the Green Party will be calling for a more coherent and responsible approach to clean up everywhere.

"The Mapua debacle shows there are major issues with liability, management and technology. But most of all there is a frightening level of denial about the very real risks to communities from contaminated sites."


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