Dangerous aluminium dross dumped near Edendale

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2014

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An Invercargill-based fertiliser company has been ordered by the Environment Court to stop dumping a noxious contaminant that has led to at least two people needing hospital treatment.

Taha Asia Pacific and Taha Fertilizer Industries Ltd have been served interim enforcement orders by the Environment Court after it was found they dumped aluminium dross at Crawford Enterprises on Coalpit Rd, near Edendale.

Aluminium dross is a highly dangerous material which when mixed with water reacts to release flammable and noxious gas, and is hazardous to human health.

In an August 4 written decision by Environment Court Judge J E Borthwick, orders were given to stop all further discharge of the material to the site, to prohibit the removal of any of the material until further testing is completed, and to provide a list of all other sites where the material is deposited or stored.

Crawford Enterprises Ltd was also subject to the orders.

The case came about after Environment Southland compliance officer Aurora Grant visited the site on July 17 to investigate complaints that aluminium dross was being dumped there.

The site inspection revealed two piles of gravel consisting of small lumps of metallic grey matter in an unsealed gravel pit. The pit was near the level of the water table and water was ponding around the base of one of the piles.

The compliance officer spoke to the site manager, Bruce Spencer, who confirmed the piles contained aluminium dross brought in by Taha.

Spencer had been advised by representatives from Taha the material was safe as it had been rendered inert after mixing with gravel, the report said.

He had been advised an occupant of a neighbouring property had complained about being sick since the dross had been on site.

No Crawford Enterprises employees who had been working with the material had shown symptoms.

The material was intended to be used for roading and Crawford Enterprises said it took it on the assurances of Taha that it was harmless and safe.

However, the material gave off an unpleasant odour and caused irritation to the skin, eyes and throat, and two employees of a neighbouring contractor received hospital treatment for sore eyes and throats.

Crawford Enterprises then requested Taha immediately remove the material from its land.

Borthwick found the material was a contaminant that was dangerous to human life and kills water organisms, and considered it necessary to make interim enforcement orders without service of notice or holding a hearing.

He said it was likely members of the public had been and would continue to be exposed to the dangerous material and there would be adverse effects on the environment if it entered groundwater.

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- The Southland Times

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