Probe into water contamination
A criminal investigation is under way into a Wellington landfill for allegedly discharging contaminants into a stream that burbles behind homes, a school, a kindergarten, and into a marine sanctuary.
It is not the first time T&T Landfills, off Happy Valley Rd, has been in trouble for similar issues. An investigation in 2016 by the Greater Wellington Regional Council resulted in an abatement notice, fines, and cost recovery ordered.
The council has now confirmed to Stuff a criminal investigation is under way following a notification from the public in June this year that there had been contaminants discharged, unauthorised earthworks, and ‘‘other potential non-compliances’’. If the investigation prosecutes under the Resource Management Act, T&T operators could face up to two years in jail or a fine up to $300,000. The company could be fined up to $600,000.
Jade Lorier’s home backs on to the stream. Her children played in it
when they were younger. They would often swim in Owhiro Bay, near where the stream joins the South Coast and the Taputeranga Marine Reserve. She was glad action was finally happening.
’’I would like to be able to swim in the deep swim holes along Owhiro Stream but am certain the water would make me ill,’’ Lorier this week told various councillors via email.
‘‘There has been a major failing from the regional council and there has been a lack of monitoring of the stream’s health since there are various landfills close by, as well as some poorly installed residential development wastewater ... Complaints about the stream health have been ongoing for many years now with little change or improvement in the stream’s condition.’’
She called for the council to commit to regular monitoring and to share that data with the community.
‘‘We also want a commitment from the regional council that the health of the stream will improve.’’
Regional council environment management acting manager Alistair Cross said issues with the Owhiro catchment dated back 50 years or more and there was no easy or quick fix. The council was starting a pilot project in which Wellington’s two councils, Wellington Water, Regional Public Health, and locals would try to hammer out solutions to the water quality problems in the catchment.
The first meeting is later in this month.
The landfill was investigated after discharges into Owhiro Stream in 2016. The abatement notice issued then remained in place.
The council said there was public monitoring data available from the catchment area. It recently said it could not share data specific to the T&T investigation while that was ongoing.
Jade Lorier’s home backs on to the stream. Her children would often play in it when they were younger.