NZ First declares New Plymouth maize kernel spill a major biosecurity breach

CHARLOTTE CURD/stuff.co.nz

A spill of a large amount of quarantined imported maize in New Plymouth has been described as a major biosecurity breach by New Zealand First.

A spill of a large amount of quarantined imported maize in New Plymouth has been described as a major biosecurity breach by New Zealand First.

Contractors got to work cleaning up the mess, which was scattered from Port Taranaki storage sheds along Ocean View Parade and Bayly Rd before 8pm on Tuesday and carried on throughout the night.

Environmental watchdog and the owner of the port, the Taranaki Regional Council, had not been notified of the issue this morning.

A clean-up is underway after thousands of maize kernels were spilled on the roads around Port Taranaki in New Plymouth.
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ

A clean-up is underway after thousands of maize kernels were spilled on the roads around Port Taranaki in New Plymouth.

On Wednesday hoover trucks, road sweepers and people with brooms continued to pick up the maize kernels.

New Zealand First acting Primary Industries spokesman Ron Mark said it could pose a significant threat to the country's environment.

"Of extreme concern is the potential for diseases and unwanted plant seeds to enter the country with this imported maize," Mark said.

A cleanup is underway after thousands of maize kernels were spilled on the roads around Port Taranaki in New Plymouth.
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ

A cleanup is underway after thousands of maize kernels were spilled on the roads around Port Taranaki in New Plymouth.

"We demand assurances from Ministers and MPI over how this quarantined maize was collected and disposed of."

Mark said the spill highlighted weaknesses in New Zealand's biosecurity controls.

"This shows what a major disconnect there is between reality and practice by Biosecurity New Zealand.

"The Ministers do not understand the difference between denaturing at the port of entry and transporting cargo like this all over the country to "transitional facilities."

Mark said the spill yet again highlighted how amateur this government was at biosecurity as the loads were obviously not secure and he knew for a fact it was not the first spill.

"Especially when people near the site say they were warned 'not to drive through it, in case tyres picked up maize'," he said.

"In the words of one resident 'it's an absolute joke but a serious joke' because maize could still be easily seen this morning."

Mark said the spill was not acceptable and the Ministers needed to front and front urgently.

TRC director resource management Fred McLay said the organisation would not expect to be notified unless there were potential environmental effects.

"A spill of corn on an urban street would not, on the face of it, raise concerns about such effects, as long as it is removed quickly," McLay said.

 - Stuff

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