Chemical clean-up follows plant fire

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2014

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Environmental consultants are to help in the clean-up of the razed Livestock Supplies site because of pollution concerns.

Stakeholders are now searching for ways to manage the waste after a fire razed the farm fertiliser supply building two months ago. Gore District Council building control manager Russell Paterson met with them to discuss the clean-up.

Initial concerns of chemical runoff into storm and groundwater had been allayed by a trench dug immediately after the fire.

Now, the concern was whether under fire the chemicals underwent a reaction and changed structure, Paterson said. The chemicals housed on site were designed to be applied to land so were not dangerous as such. Environmental consultants were now testing the chemicals.

A consultant from Pattle Dolamore Ltd's Christchurch branch, who is working with the case, declined to comment on the issue as it was "too early in the process".

When asked if there were any specific environmental risks, the consultant said she was too busy to answer any questions and refused to comment further.

Building owner Geoff Popenhagen also declined to comment on the clean-up, saying it was "a bit sensitive at this stage".

"All I can say is we are working with an environmental consultant.

"It's an ongoing process."

The business was operating from a temporary site in Oreti St in south Gore, he said, and they were looking into finalising a permanent site for a rebuild.

Environment Southland senior pollution officer Leonie Grace said the council had been working with the building owner and a environmental consultancy firm to provide advice on the disposal of chemical waste. The main issues were waste management and disposal, she said.

While most fertilisers were water-soluble, they were designed to be spread thinly over large areas rather than concentrated in bulk, she said.

However, she was satisfied they had been contained and posed little risk to the environment.

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