Asbestos plan 'reneges' on promise

01:11, May 16 2012
Burwood Resource Recovery Park
DUMPING GROUND: Quake rubble will continue to be dumped at the Burwood Resource Recovery Park.

The Christchurch City Council's proposal to dump asbestos-containing material in part of Bottle Lake Forest goes against commitments made late last year, the Green Party says.

The plan to dump up to 5000 tonnes of damaged concrete pipes containing asbestos has angered Parklands and Waimairi Beach residents, some of whom say they were not told about the proposal and about a public meeting last week.

The council says special earthquake legislations means resource consent for the Burwood Resource Recovery Park will be granted regardless of public input, although the views of locals will be taken into account in setting conditions on the work.

Council city water and waste unit manager Mark Christison said a guarantee had been given to those who attended last week's meeting that the asbestos-dumping part of the consent application would be looked at again.

Green MP Eugenie Sage said the asbestos plan "reneged" on assurances given last November by Environment Canterbury commissioner Peter Skelton and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker that waste with asbestos would continue being transported to the Kate Valley landfill.

"These [assurances] were made in the context of the order-in-council, which changed the regional and city plan rules to provide for disposal of earthquake waste at Burwood," she said.


Parker said in November that ways needed to be found to ensure waste was managed as close as possible to its source.

"It became clear that we needed to find ways to minimise the impact upon the Kate Valley regional landfill. It was also important to reduce the number of truck movements to and from the site and Kate Valley for local residents and people living near the arterial routes,'' he said then.

"Opening up the new [Burwood] landfill cell will keep disposal and recovery costs to a manageable level and hugely reduce the number of truck movements between Burwood and Kate Valley.

"Materials like asbestos and other hazardous wastes will still be trucked to the regional landfill, but the majority of materials unable to be recycled or reused, which are not hazardous, will be safely disposed of in the new Burwood cell." 

Sage said the asbestos application highlighted the problems with Canterbury earthquake recovery legislation shortcutting Resource Management Act processes.

"The community and the environment are short-changed because there is no chance for public submissions or challenge through the Environment Court," she said.

Christison previously said residents' views would be taken into account by commissioners when setting conditions on the consents.

"We gave an undertaking at the meeting [with locals last week] that we would take another look at the asbestos issue," he said.

That would take about two weeks.

The consent application by the recovery park and city council has three sections:

- For the sorting and recycling of quake waste at the park.

- For permanent disposal of waste in a new cell at the landfill.

- For permanent disposal of mixed hardfill, asbestos and contaminated silt and water in discrete cells at the park.

A consent hearing is not required and only a limited number of groups needed to be consulted, in this case local residents' associations, Ngai Tahu, the Canterbury District Health Board and the Burwood-Pegasus Community Board.

Christison was unsure whether the material would contain blue asbestos, the most dangerous, or the slightly less poisonous brown variety.

"As far as health and safety legislation is concerned, asbestos is asbestos," he said.

Bower Ave resident of 10 years Philippa Grey went to the meeting last week.

She was surprised at how few locals were there and estimated only 30 attended.

"They said they didn't look at any other sites. It sort of came out that it was cheaper, easier and closer to have it here,'' she said.

"It's very hush-hush."

A limited number of residents had been told about the meeting, she said.

Heathglen Ave resident of five years Chris Aston-Grieve said she heard of the meeting only "through the grapevine" and rang the council to complain.

"They don't even cover the trucks now that come with the silt. There's muck and dust everywhere. It's horrible living here,'' she said.

"I've had 21 respiratory bugs since last June.

"I don't want asbestosis as well."

The Press