Residents query quake dump safety assurances
Swimmers and walkers have been assured Waimairi Beach is free from contamination from the Bottle Lake Forest earthquake dump.
Tens of thousands of litres of sewage-contaminated wastewater and stormwater containing sand and silt are being disgorged daily into ponds in the Burwood Resource Recovery Park, about 100 metres from the beach.
Forest Park resident Leigh Harris , who queried the water being discharged in the forest, has raised further concerns with the Christchurch City Council about the operation.
Council water and waste manager Mark Christison said last week that the operation was environmentally safe and adequately monitored.
Harris said she remained concerned about the risk of contaminants leaking through the sand dunes on to the foreshore and into the sea.
Christison gave a guarantee to The Press yesterday that the area was clean and safe.
"There's no risk to people using the ocean out there at all," he said.
Harris' specific concern related to "possible faecal contamination of the sand on the beach, along which people walk in bare feet and lie on when swimming or sunbathing and, of course, possible contamination of the seawater".
She queried his comments that silt and sand had been excavated from the ponds and put into the landfill.
"I have never seen any excavation occur. Likewise, I have never seen the ponds empty of water, so that the sediment could be excavated."
In a reply to Harris late last week, Christison said the ponds had high enough banks to ensure no contaminated water could flow out.
Results from the latest groundwater tests close to the beach were not available yet, but testing this year and last year had showed no contamination.
He said an excavator was used weekly to remove sand that built up in the ponds.
"The pond is not drained at any time as this could cause odours if any contaminated material was dried out," he said.
Parkland resident Debbie Fowler wanted to know more about testing.
She said an Environment Canterbury employee had said regular environmental tests were being carried out on the the pond to ensure no leaching into waterways.
"I asked him . . . what tests were being performed for the air contaminants we as residents are being exposed to, such as listeria, campylobacter, salmonella and others. He replied . . . this was not necessary."
Fowler wondered why contractors did not wear masks and overalls. "If you are employed at a laboratory where they perform tests on human faeces and urine you are required to wear masks, gloves and gowns?" she said, adding that she had worked in such a lab in Christchurch.
"This was in extremely small quantities; nothing like the truckloads they are dumping into open ponds within such a short distance of a heavily built-up area."
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