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Time to aim a spotlight on contaminated land

9 October 2008

Time to aim a spotlight on contaminated land - Greens

A Green Party Budget bid aimed at investigating contaminated land in New Zealand has shed a small shaft of light on dioxin contamination at sawmill sites.

A report, published by the Environment Ministry today, sampled 15 new sites where pentachlorophenol or PCP was used, Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

"The report raises some serious concerns about the management of some sites as a number identified are now used for residential purposes and it was not clear whether the contamination had been mitigated.

"This investigation is a small first step, but there is much work to be done to identify the dirty secret of other sites that were contaminated due to dumping of waste from sawmills and run off into nearby waterways," Dr Norman says.

"The broader issues around contaminated land are complex and past Governments have failed to address these, preferring instead to sweep these costly problems under the carpet.

"There are sensitive issues that need to be tackled around liability for the clean-up of sites. In some cases landowners have simply walked away and left communities to deal with the problem.

"We suspect there are literally thousands of sites around the country that are contaminated from past use, however, New Zealanders can not easily find out where these site are located.

"The Green Party tried to carry out its own survey in attempt to build a picture of the scale of the contamination problem in New Zealand. We were very concerned to find that many councils do not hold thorough records and some, who did, refused to disclose them to us," Dr Norman says.

"The Greens believe that a large scale investigation should be carried out to crack open this toxic can of worms so that we can make our environment safe for future generations."


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