Landfarm pinged twice for consent breaches

Last updated 10:38 20/03/2014

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Landfarms have come under fire again after one got a bad report from the Taranaki Regional Council and another was pinged twice for breaching resource consents last month.

The council's incidents report was presented to the consents and regulatory meeting this week.

Remediation New Zealand, which operated a drilling waste landfarm at Manutahi, featured twice in the incidents report.

The report says "elevated levels of benzene" were twice detected in one groundwater monitoring bore. It also took issue with the way hydrocarbons were spread.

And a regulatory report into Waikaikai Farms, which also operated a landfarm in South Taranaki, for the 2011-2013 period, gave the company a rating of poor environmental compliance, due to mismanagement in the initial period, but said significant improvements had been made.

Remediation New Zealand managing director Kerry O'Neill didn't want to comment, saying the incidents had been dealt with by the regional council.

Last month the landfarm was given the lowest grade possible for compliance with resource consent conditions by the council in its 2012-2013 regulatory report.

Both Climate Justice Taranaki and Green party candidate for New Plymouth Sarah Roberts came out swinging after the reports were released.

Ms Roberts said the landfarms were far from "fit for purpose".

"The potential for damage to our primary industries and our clean green image is huge."

There were also two incidents at Fonterra's plant at Eltham, but general manager lower North Island Scott Walls said he wasn't certain either was a breach of consent, because both events were contained.

"We're still waiting to hear back from the regional council."

The two spills weren't related to each other, he said.

"We did a clean-up and made some changes around how the Eltham site runs . . . We're making sure it doesn't happen again."

Dust problems from the dry weather, effluent spills and palm kernel odour were some of the other incidents that breached environmental consents and warranted some form of enforcement action from the regional council.

The latest incidents report listed 61 breaches over the last four months, out of which the council was considering enforcement action against 20.

At the same time last year there were more - 72 - non-compliant incidents, but enforcement action was only being looked at for about seven.

Council director of resource management Fred McLay said enforcement action could be a range of things from infringement notices through to something more serious, such as the environment court. The council hadn't got tougher over the past year, he said.

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"I think it's a function of the performance of those people."

The lack of rain had caused a few issues with dust and dust management, but people could have undertaken measures to dampen the sites and manage the situation, and they hadn't, he said.

"So they were having some form of enforcement action against them."

The council had a reputation of using the enforcement tools in the RMA, because it changed behaviour, he said.

- Taranaki Daily News

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