Group to address stock grazing on oil waste

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 04/07/2014

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The issue of cows grazing on areas where oil and gas drilling waste has been spread will be addressed by a new Government-driven working group.

The group, comprising the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry for the Environment, the Taranaki Regional Council and others would be established in the next few weeks, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said.

It follows Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright recently calling on the Government to take action on landfarms.

There is currently nothing in place to prevent dairy cows or other stock from grazing on landfarms - a method of disposing drilling waste that involves spreading it on farmland and allowing microbes in the soil to break down contaminants.

TRC director of environmental quality Gary Bedford said the council had pointed out the gap in regulation in its submission.

"The question of who can control what a farmer or land farm operator might do on a landfarm outside the conditions of the [resource] consent remains up in the air," Bedford said. "This is a matter of animal health and safety."

He said the council followed Ministry for the Environment guidelines for what was a safe level of contaminant concentrations for stock to graze on.

"The question is what if stock graze on land that does not meet those guidelines yet."

After the bioremediation process was complete, there was no problem with grazing, he said.

"There's no indication of a scientific risk or an actual risk to the quality of milk or meat."

An report last year by soil scientist Doug Edmeades found concentrations of nutrients, heavy metals and soluble salts in the soils and pasture on landfarms are similar to normal New Zealand soils.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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