Call for more testing on waste farm products

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 16:41 18/12/2013

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Milk from farms used as dumps for drilling waste will be tested for toxins, but the Green Party is calling for more widespread testing of Taranaki animal products.

The Green Party has previously called on Fonterra to stop taking milk from cows grazing on the farms in Taranaki where oil and fracking waste had been spread.

The party said the milk was unsafe and could threaten the reputation of New Zealand's dairy industry.

The Taranaki Regional Council has previously dismissed the claims as scaremongering. The farms where the waste was spread were quarantined then underwent extensive testing before cattle were put back on them, it said.

Only one farm had been consented for the disposal of fracking waste.

None of the council's communications staff were available to comment this afternoon.

Radio New Zealand reported this morning that the Ministry for Primary Industries has introduced new requirements for dairy farmers who allow mining waste to be spread on their farms and had enhanced its monitoring of the sector.

It would also start monitoring milk from those farms as part of the National Chemical Contaminants programme. The ministry had also introduced a new requirement for dairy farmers who allowed the practice to keep their dairy companies informed.

Green Party Energy spokesman Gareth Hughes welcomed the announcement.

He called on the Government to implement comprehensive testing of all Taranaki animal products that have been exposed to toxic waste and pollution from the oil and gas industry.

"The Government has been negligent by not yet testing any of the milk or meat in Taranaki for hydrocarbons and other toxic contaminants from the oil industry," he said.

In addition to the 12 farms in Taranaki, the region had 30 sites where toxic petroleum industry waste had been buried on farms in what is known as "mix-bury-cover".

Produce from those farms had also not been tested for contaminants from the oil and gas industry nor had produce from farms which had had petroleum wells drilled on them, Hughes said.

These farms should be part of MPI's new testing regime.

"In the last 20 years, over 400 wells have been drilled in Taranaki, many of which are on or immediately next to dairy or beef farms.

"The National Government is putting New Zealand's reputation for producing clean, green and safe food to the world at risk by promoting the expansion of the oil and gas industry on our farms.''

Hughes said mixing New Zealand's dairying industry with the oil and gas industry was "an accident waiting to happen".

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"We have seen from the DCD and botulism scares that we can't afford to have another contamination incident."

Neither the Ministry for Primary Industries nor minister Nathan Guy were immediately available for comment.

- Stuff

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