Parker on Rio Tinto environmental reports: 'It's a start'

New Zealand Aluminium Smelter has released environmental reports about its site at Tiwai Point.
New Zealand Aluminium Smelter has released environmental reports about its site at Tiwai Point.

Environment Minister David Parker has welcomed environmental reports that were released by New Zealand Aluminium Smelters this week, but he hopes more information is forthcoming.

“I welcome the release of the reports. It’s a start,’’ he said.

For the first time since announcing the smelter would stay open until 2024, NZAS released package of reports containing results of extensive environmental monitoring conducted at Tiwai Point, and detailed plans for further monitoring that will be undertaken as part of its closure study.

However, Parker, who admitted last month that there are no agreements are in place between the aluminium producer and the Government for the clean up of the site, wants more information about what is happening under the ground.

READ MORE:
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“I still await a detailed report on the extent of contamination of the smelter site,'' he said.

”I look forward to receiving a rehabilitation plan.'’

The reports stated coastal erosion was having an effect on bores near a site where a toxic substance called spent cell liner is stockpiled, and that groundwater monitoring bores surrounding a landfill show there is leaching of contaminants from materials deposited at the landfill into the surrounding groundwater. SCL contains flourides, cyanides and nitrides.

When asked about those issues, Parker said Environment Southland was the authority with the lead responsibility for environmental management in the area.

“This includes monitoring and managing discharges to the environment.’’

Environment minister David Parker hs welcomed reports from New Zealand Aluminium Smelter, but wants more information. (File photo)
ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff
Environment minister David Parker hs welcomed reports from New Zealand Aluminium Smelter, but wants more information. (File photo)

He said the Government has provided the regional council up to $300,000 to support it undertaking an on-site investigation.

“I expect Environment Southland will review the NZAS sampling programme and determine the appropriate action to take,’’ he said.

Environment Southland visits four times a year to audit and monitor the sampling that NZAS has completed.

The regional council has hired Aurecon, an engineering, design, and advisory company, to provide specialist technical expertise at the site.

NZAS is carrying out a closure study to prepare for the closure of the smelter, and employed external independent experts to assist with the closure study. In the last two months 238 bores had been drilled and samples taken, which were being analysed.

It has set aside $298m as a provision in its accounts for the closure and rehabilitation of its Tiwai site.

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