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Kedgley calls for contamination tests

18 November 2004

Kedgley calls for contamination tests within a year

The Greens are calling for tests within a year of all sites that have been identified as potentially contaminated.

Green Health spokeperson Sue Kedgley said, "People living on potentially contaminated sites cannot be asked to wait indefinitely in this state of anxiety. The Government must commit to testing all such sites within a year so people can regain some peace of mind.

"It was suggested at a public meeting in Auckland last night that it would take eighteen months to set a national contamination standard, and that testing of potentially contaminated sites will have to wait until after that standard is set. That is simply not good enough. The Government must greatly accelerate the standard-setting process to ensure testing can be completed within a year."

Ms Kedgley said a within-a-year testing regime should be part of a comprehensive, nationally consistent process for identifying potentially contaminated sites, and then testing and remediating those sites identified as such.

"The current situation is chaotic and deeply concerning for affected property owners. Various regional and city councils are left unsure of how to tackle the contamination problem. The Government must take leadership and set up, as quickly as possible, a process that provides clarity about how this problem is going to be tackled up and down the country."

The Government had been lamentably slow in dealing with New Zealand's contamination problem, she said.

"What on earth have they been doing about the contamination time bomb all this time? We have known about this problem for over a decade, yet the Government is still pleading for more time. The time bomb is now blowing up in the Government's face, and instead of cleaning up the mess, it is diving for cover."

In July 1993, the New Scientist magazine published an article describing New Zealand as a "poisoned paradise", and identified contamination as an urgent problem. In the article, Pete Hodgson - Labour's then-Environment spokesperson - pointed out that New Zealand had thousands of contaminated sites. "New Zealand is sitting on a time bomb," he said.

Ms Kedgley said: "Instead of taking the decisive, urgent action required to confront the problem, the Environment Minister [Marian Hobbs] is trying to sweep this contaminated soil under the nation's carpet."


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