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Toxic discharge pipe highlighted

Wed, 23 Feb 2005

Toxic discharge pipe highlighted as Marsden B Occupation hits 8th day

Marsden Point, Wednesday 23 February: Today a trio of Greenpeace divers took to the sea to highlight the underwater area that Mighty River Power's plans to discharge its pollution. Meanwhile the trio of protesters who ascended the proposed Marsden B coal fired power station early last Wednesday, remain there on what is now the 8th day of occupation.

Greenpeace diver Phil Woollam says, "Mighty River's Power coal plant will not be clean. Along with the millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions to air, the plant will flush sulphur dioxide and numerous other toxins such as mercury directly into Bream Bay. The toxins will increase across every level of the food chain out here".

"This week we've seen Mighty River Power claiming that it would have the 'cleanest-burning coal-fired power station in Australasia.' But the coal industry's definition of "clean" wouldn't be found in any dictionary. There is no such thing as clean coal," said Greenpeace Campaigner Steve Abel.

"After being caught by pollution control devices, pollutants still have to be disposed of somewhere. In the case of Marsden B they will either be flushed into the sea or dumped at the toxic ash site. From where they will eventually leach into the ground water," says Abel.

Mighty River Power's (MRP) proposed toxic ash dump would cover 50 hectares (equivalent to 68 football fields) and be right adjacent to Ruakaka township. Toxins such as mercury will also be discharged via the wastewater outflow into Bream Bay.

New Zealand's sulphur dioxide (SOX) emissions from thermal electricity generation increased from 2,067 tonnes in 1990 to 12,417 tonnes in 2003: a massive 500% increase. Mighty River Power's plans would increase that again.

Nor does MRP's resource consent application match its rhetoric. The company's own application refuses to specify limits on SOX emissions and will not even commit it to specific sulphur quantities in the coal it will burn. Cheaper high sulphur coal will mean that more sulphur dioxide is emitted. Even in its own deeply flawed application, Mighty River Power estimates that its emissions, when combined with the NZRC refinery's own emissions, take the emissions up to 85% of air quality standards, leaving very little room for error.

Sulphur dioxide is not the only problem with the plant. The company has no plans at all to remove nitrogen oxides (N0X) from its stacks. N0X helps cause acid rain and low-level ozone.

In 2002, when a US company, American Electric Power, tried to install twin technologies to remove both chemicals in a small town in the USA, it failed and local people reported burning eyes, throats and lungs. Eventually, the company spent $20 million and moved the entire town out. The following year the S0X emissions increased.

Greenpeace are demanding that the Government call in and stop Marsden B because, as New Zealand's first major coal fired power station proposal in 25 years, Marsden B is of national and international significance to the environmental and New Zealand's renewable energy future.

Tomorrow (Thursday 24 February) is the last day for submissions on Mighty River Power's plan to burning coal at Marsden B.

The rooftop activists are posting live updates to: http://weblog.greenpeace.org/nz/


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