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Govt allows cows to graze on toxic land

17 December 2013

Govt allows cows to graze on toxic land

The National Government and Taranaki Regional Council allow cows to graze on land known to be polluted with oil and gas waste, the Green Party said today.

Reports by Taranaki Regional Council show that limits for toxic chemicals have been exceeded for land that dairy cows are allowed to graze on. These toxic chemicals are from oil, gas and fracking waste which are spread on farmland and covered, in a practice known as landfarming.

“When it comes to spreading toxic waste from the oil and gas industry onto farmland, the Government and councils need to take a safety-first approach but they clearly aren’t doing so,” said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“Taranaki Regional Council’s report on the Schrider Landfarm shows there were several areas of land that did not comply with limits set for hydrocarbons and other toxic substances, yet Government rules are so lax nothing prevents the farmer from grazing his cows on this land.”

The maximum levels of contaminants stipulated in the resource consents granted by Taranaki Regional Council only apply when the operator wants to “surrender the consent” meaning they want to do something else with the land. The limits for contaminants do not apply before then, meaning that these limits are not applicable when the land is being grazed by dairy cows.

“The lack of rules regarding the amount of toxic chemicals from oil and gas waste that are allowed to be spread on the land when the farmer starts letting dairy cows eat the grass is unacceptable,” said Mr Hughes.

"Cows and fracking wastes should not mix.

“This lax regulation is not best practice and New Zealanders deserve to be protected by world class regulation.

"Alberta, the Canadian state that Taranaki has looked to for guidance does not allow this controversial practice to occur.

“The National Government is promoting a massive expansion of the oil and gas industry in New Zealand, without acknowledging that it will create a waste disposal problem on a massive scale.

“Rather than backing the oil industry, the National Government would do better to encourage other sectors of the economy, like clean energy, that build on our valuable clean green brand and actually create more jobs,” said Mr Hughes.

The limits for total petroleum hydrocarbons, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene, naphthalene, pyrene, benzo[a]pyrene, “apply only at time of expiry, cancellation, or surrender of consent, and not during the period of exercise of the consent”, pg 13: http://www.trc.govt.nz/assets/Publications/technical-reports/oil-and-gas-compliance-monitoring-reports/1141122w2.pdf

Report on Schrider Landfarm that shows high levels of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and barium, pg 14,http://www.trc.govt.nz/assets/Publications/technical-reports/oil-and-gas-compliance-monitoring-reports/963028w.pdf


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