Dow's efforts help granting of consent

21:17, Oct 14 2014

A chemical plant with a controversial history has been granted consent to burn waste product for the next 30 years.

Dow AgroSciences met no resistance to its publicly notified application to the Taranaki Regional Council to discharge contaminants to air except one submission from the Taranaki District Health Board, which was neutral.

The regional council's director of resource consent Fred McLay said the company's engagement with the community, including local environment groups, had obviously paid off.

"It's remarkable given this site and its history that it's gone through the RMA [Resource Management Act] process without a hearing."

McLay said the company had been proactive in consulting key parties, using phone calls, letter drops and a notice in the newspaper.

Since the site was established in 1960, systems for treating odour have been vastly improved and some toxic chemicals ceased production, including the herbicide used to make Agent Orange.

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The Taranaki District Health Board's submission wanted to ensure conditions of the consent were enough to protect the health of people and communities.

It requested a consent duration of no more than 15 years.

The consent runs until 2044 but could be reviewed and changed by council if needed, depending on monitoring results, McLay said.

The company, formerly Ivon Watkins-Dow, is known for the chemical dioxin, a by-product of chemicals it manufactured from the early 1960s until 1987.

Dioxin has been blamed for birth defects and cancer of residents in the Paritutu area.

The plant manufactures about 70 different agrichemical products across four main process plants and uses an incinerator to dispose of waste materials.

There is potential for dioxins to form as combustion by-products.

But director of environmental quality Gary Bedford said the company's incinerator was clean and met international standards.

"A backyard incinerator is tens of thousands of times worse."

Testing of dioxin emissions in two residential areas near the site showed concentrations were within the typical background levels in other parts of New Zealand.

Taranaki Daily News