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Kopeopeo Canal Remediation Project settles appeal

Kopeopeo Canal Remediation Project settles appeal

17 November 2014

On 13 November 2014, the Environment Court accepted settlement of the Appeal against the consents for the Kopeopeo Canal Remediation Project following a short hearing in Mount Maunganui.

The Court heard from all parties and issued a determination which gives the agreed settlement between Regional Council and the appellant legal effect. All parties have been working together to reach a settlement that will see the location of one of the containment sites moved northwards. The Court looked into the evidence presented and found that the change of location would not materially change the effects of the original consent and conditions. The Court also commended all parties on working collaboratively to reach this agreement.

Kopeopeo Canal Project Manager for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Brendon Love, explained the decision and the next steps for the project now the Appeal has been settled.

“It has taken almost six months of discussions with the appellant to determine what their key issues are and develop a solution that all parties are satisfied with. Now that the Court is satisfied with the settlement, it allows us to continue with our plans to safely remove and remediate dioxin contaminated sediment within the Kopeopeo Canal.

“This project is about leaving the environment in a better state for future generations and I know that many people in the community are keen to see this project get underway as soon as possible. We also acknowledge that some community members have concerns about certain aspects of the project, such as potential dust effects, so while the appeal resolution allows the project team to move forward with the work program, various elements of the project are being re-evaluated to ensure that the best possible outcome for the project, and the community can be realised.

“The resource consent, hearing and appeal process have been important steps to work through. It demonstrates that we are being open and transparent and that we are seeking to find the best way forward together with the community.

“With this in mind, we will be forming a Community Liaison Group over the coming months. This group will act as a voice for the community on the project. There are also several independent monitors that will ensure project compliance with consents moving forward,” Mr Love said.

Background
The Kopeopeo Canal is located outside the western boundary of Whakatāne. It was constructed to convey drainage and floodwaters from low lying farmlands in the Rangitaiki Plains into the Whakatāne Estuary.

The canal was contaminated in the 1950s to late 1980s as a result of stormwater discharges from a former sawmill, which treated timber using Pentachlorophenol (PCP). While unknown at the time, all PCP that was imported into New Zealand for use in the timber processing industry also included a percentage of impurities which contained dioxins.

As owners of the Kopeopeo Canal, Council has a statutory and regulatory responsibility to manage contaminated land and protect the community and the environment.

The project team will work closely with the community, using a staged approach to first remove, safely store and then clean up the contaminated sediment using bioremediation. The selected bioremediation method breaks down contaminants using a combination of fungi, bacteria and plants to degrade dioxin.

More detailed information and background to the project can be found on the website www.boprc.govt.nz/kopeopeo

Timeframes
• March 2013 - Regional Council made a resource consent application which was publicly notified and open to submissions.
• December 2013 - RMA hearing on the consent application heard by four independent commissioners.
• February 2014 – independent commissioners advised that the application for resource consent had been successful subject to significant conditions
• March 2014 - decision appealed
• 13 November 2014 – appeal resolved by way of court order
• November 2014 – March 2015 – Ongoing preparation for project including appointment of Independent Monitor, formulation of Community Liaison Group, final engineering design plans, final management and monitoring plans, and contractor engagement.

ENDS

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