Turuturu Mokai tainted by toxic metals

Toxic metals have been found in the historic landfill recently unearthed at Hawera's troubled Turuturu Mokai reserve.

In a report obtained by the Taranaki Daily News, the Taranaki Regional Council states high levels of lead, zinc, arsenic and copper have been found at the site.

It is the latest in a series of blows to voluntary project manager Milton Whareaitu as he works to clean up the derelict area.

TRC director of environment quality Gary Bedford said tests of soil samples during an investigation of the landfill had found the metals.

"These metals can be a significant risk to the environment and human health," he said.

However, the only real concern was for those with ongoing close contact. There was no danger to the public.

"Considering the current state of the area that was sampled, it is not surprising that some samples are higher than the guidelines for recreational or residential land," he said.

There are two clean-up options once the full size of the dump-site has been determined.

One option presented in the report is the removal of all fill material to a consented Class A landfill.

The report states costs involved for this option may be prohibitive and the process of excavation, loading and transportation may result in significant dispersion of contaminants into the surrounding environment.

The second suggestion is to leave the fill in place but cover it up.

That option would include recontouring the land, capping it with compacted clay and then covering it with clean topsoil.

Milton Whareaitu has axed the second option and said he would work towards getting the toxic dirt moved offsite.

His inquires have found it could cost up to $20,000 to dig up the mess and transport it to an approved site.

"To me it has to go, it doesn't belong there".

While the clean-up project so far has been 100 per cent voluntary with no funding, Mr Whareaitu said he would be working hard to source the necessary cash.

"The expensive part of it is transporting it up to New Plymouth," he said.

"It doesn't matter whether it costs $50,000 or $100,000, it still has to go".

Taranaki Daily News