Probe into wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion

The Dominion Post - - News - Tom Hunt tom.hunt@stuff.co.nz

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.

STUFF

Jade Lorier’s home backs on to the stream. Her chil­dren would of­ten play in it when they were younger.

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