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Fonterra should clean up its act

Press release from Forest & Bird follows:

Forest & Bird calls on Fonterra to clean up its act on the Manawatu River

9 August 2006

Fonterra should be helping clean up the Manawatu River, not polluting it with wastewater, Forest & Bird says.

This week Horizons Regional Council granted Fonterra permission to discharge up to 8500 cubic metres of wastewater a day – the equivalent of 280 milk tankers – into the river from its Longburn dairy factory for the next 15 years.

Forest & Bird was one of 18 groups, including the Department of Conservation, Ngati Raukawa, Fish and Game and MidCentral Health, who opposed Fonterra’s application to dump the wastewater.

Horowhenua Branch Secretary Joan Leckie says Forest & Bird is disappointed that consent was granted, and would support those groups that have signalled that they may appeal the decision in the Environment Court.

Meanwhile Forest & Bird would encourage Fonterra to be a better corporate citizen and work towards protecting the environment in Manawatu.

“As New Zealand’s biggest exporter, Fonterra sells its products to international markets that demand that those products are produced in an environmentally sustainable way. We would be happy to work with Fonterra to help it meet those expectations.”

Forest & Bird urged Fonterra to set a timetable to fulfil the commitment its makes on its website to “minimising the impact of dairying on the environment,” including responsible treatment of wastewater, and “to achieve clean, healthy water in dairying on streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.”

“Fonterra is insisting that its farmers clean up their own waterways, while it is continuing to discharge wastewater into the river – we would like to see Fonterra reconsider the impact its own actions is having on the Manawatu River.”

Fonterra could demonstrate that it genuinely wanted to clean up waterways by supporting Forest & Bird’s efforts to protect the Manawatu Estuary, Joan Leckie says.

Last year, thanks to Forest & Bird, Manawatu Estuary was accorded international status as a Wetland of Significance under the Ramsar Convention, a global treaty on wetland protection. Its Ramsar status will be officially acknowledged in a ceremony on October 14.

Joan Leckie says the effect of Fonterra’s wastewater on the estuary ecosystem was not yet known – something improved monitoring could address.

Fonterra is just one of about a dozen major polluters of the Manawatu River, including Palmerston North City Council, Linton Army Camp, Richmond Tannery, a piggery, and other towns’effluent and stormwater systems, but that is no excuse, Joan Leckie says.

“We know that Fonterra would like to be seen as an environmentally responsible company. We invite it to start behaving in an environmentally sustainable manner by cleaning up its act in Manawatu.”

ENDS

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