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Greenpeace outlines toxic ash legacy of Marsden B

Greenpeace outlines toxic ash legacy of Marsden B

As activists on the roof of Marsden-B began the third day of their occupation, local people, with a Greenpeace ground team, wearing 'TOXIC WASTE PATROL' patches, marked out the 50 hectare perimeter of Marsden B's proposed toxic coal ash pile with yellow sign-posts and hazard tape.

If the project goes ahead, the company plans to dump sludge from treatment ponds and ash at the Ruakaka ash site, leaving a 14m high toxic ash dump adjacent to the sea which would leach persistent toxins into the environment for decades to come.

Burning coal produces a whole array of pollutants which either become gases or remain in the ash. Along with the climate-changing greenhouse gas CO2, Marsden B would produce toxic heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, mercury and highly poisonous dioxins.

Mighty River Power plans to use seawater to capture some of these pollutants from the ash - but has no plans to treat this water before discharging it straight back into Bream Bay. For this reason the company has applied to discharge the following substances into Bream Bay each year: 8,760 kg of arsenic; 4,208 kg of lead, 262 kg of cadmium and 192.7 kg of mercury.

"This area would contain perhaps the most blatant of the toxic legacies from Marsden B," said Greenpeace campaigner Steve Abel.

"Mighty River Power's plans to contain the toxic releases into this beautiful environment are, quite frankly, pathetic. Thousands of tonnes of toxic ash and waste would be trucked and dumped right beside the Ruakaka township every week for 25 years," he said.

"When Mighty River Power walks away from Marsden B in 25 years time they will wash their hands of the toxins they have poured onto the land air and water. In this way the real costs of burning coal are paid for by the locals, the environment and future generations."

New Zealand has signed the Stockholm Convention - an international agreement that promises we will reduce the creation of "persistant organic pollutants" - including dioxins. Creating a toxic coal ash dump for Marsden B would directly undermine our commitments under this agreement.

This is alongside our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to combat climate change. Global warming will also increase sea level rises and make the ash pile more susceptible to a fluctuating water table and extreme weather events.

The proposed ash dumpsite is also subject to a Treaty of Waitangi claim by Patuharakeke hapu.

Greenpeace is demanding that the Government take responsibility for this toxic, climate-changing coal project and halt it as part of establishing a sustainable energy strategy for New Zealand.

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