Toxic Sites – the down low on the go slow

In  2011, I negotiated an agreement with the National Government to advance work on cleaning up contaminated sites across the country. This included establishing a National Register of the ten worst sites where the creators of the problem could not be held accountable. These “orphan” sites would be cleaned up by a joint funding arrangement between central and local government.

Regional councils were also challenged to create a consistent and publicly transparent approach to these sites across the country. We made some good progress including the clean up of the Tui Mine site and we negotiated criteria for the National Register, which were scientifically robust. I worked with both Nick Smith and Amy Adams to achieve this progress. However, there are still hundreds of contaminated sites to properly identify, assess and clean up, and in this term of Parliament progress seems go have stalled. The Government dropped the agreement and stopped working with us.

Of the top ten sites on the National Register only four seem to be costed and subject to active clean-up. The recent Insight on Radio New Zealand documentary highlights this issue. I understand how complex these clean-ups are but it’s very concerning that it’s only a “middle level priority” for the Government. The sites are contaminated with heavy metals, dioxin, PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons) and other nasty chemicals. They leach these chemicals into soil, water and the food chain. They are serious but invisible health risks.

This week we challenged the Minister for the Environment about the underspend of the Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund. He says we are confused and it’s not a cut. We know it’s not a cut in funds; it’s a lack of leadership and political will to actively require more from regional councils and from the National Register clean-up priorities.

Nick Smith has given councils until 2020 to identify their sites and until 2030 to clean up. This is too slow, as these sites are a risk needing to be addressed with urgency and commitment.

Further reading

4 Comments Posted

  1. GOOD HEALTH to you Oldlux as you join the GROWING NOS of NZ who are succumming to MORE and MORE TOXINS in the environment. Reading a interesting and informative book called SUPPRESSED INVENTIONS and other DISCOVERIES by Dr Brian O,Leary. A STRANGE subject the DENIAL of MORE POWERFULL solutions and science to the POINT of ABSURDITY!!! As they WONT STOP and NZers have LITTLE CHOICE Just a DELIBERATE ACT of POISONING??? Or the FAILURE of GREED and HARD WORK that only CREATES the SHITTY PERSON whose BITTERNESS at FALSE LIFE and now facing DEATH requires PAIN TRANSFERRAL because of their noble sacrifice??? They COULD HAVE been at the BEACH PLAYING WITH THEIR CHILDREN but CHOOSE to MISS OUT for FALSE SOCIAL CONCEPTS??? AGAIN GOOD HEALTH to YOU OLDLUX. HAVE found ORGANIC COCONUT PRODUCTS good for BRAIN STUFF as is VISUALIZATION MORE POWERFULL than people realise!!!


    And many many findings emerging about ecocides damaging environment and animal health including human disease rates and falling life expectancy. The younger generation are particularly susceptible linked to their exposure in early years.

    There are just so many academic and clinical studies showing links with increase rates of human disease as well as specific investigations into causal mechanisms detailed with Roundup residues damaging the human immune system function on multiple fronts.

    The problem is not going away and as more information is accumulated and the widespread damage becomes a more systemic to our health and survival, how long do we just wait and do nothing.

    Glyphosate is most likely to be present in most if not all of our NZ population.

  3. Agreed OL
    I too was appalled with the presentation regarding Dairy. Utterly devoid of a wider view and mainly focused on a continued economic harvest from this environmental and human health damaging industry with a very short term future. Much of the report speculating about controlling methane and leachate was deeply flawed. No alternative direction for agriculture was presented. Dead end dairy has pretty much silenced alternative views of a healthier, more productive food supply being expanded and established here in NZ. Horticulture appeared to be ignored.

    The NZRS is pretty much hamstrung by govt and must not rock the boat nor speculate as to a more restorative management of environment and human health.

    I found the presentation from the Australian woman most enlightening as she gave a run down on how the IPCC reports are watered down to the point where the message is lost. Also data used is always out of date.

    Ground water pollution from industry is not on the radar as far as Govt is concerned.

    Round up ready crops drenched with Glyphosate carry toxins absorbed into the food chain but the chemical load to the ground water has shown to be a serious concern with human disease rates climbing in association with exposure in the USA where Monsanto has marketed their toxic wares and tied up much of horticultural production. Roundup appears to be more toxic to life forms than Glyphosate alone.

    Yet here in NZ there is no apparent control of this toxic brew contaminating our food and water.

    Economic arguments for using herbicides do not hold water.

    Economics thinking is constrained to avoid wider or long term considerations which must always trump economics we allow the business / financial sector to impose.

    Many health problems are not identified as consequences of environmental damage. Your environment intimately includes what you eat and experience in a variety of ways.

  4. As someone who has Parkinson’s Disease from heavy metals in my brain, and noting a growing number of people in this group, I notice a general lack of concern by most Government and health agencies about causes of such problems. I too think it is a general lack of leadership and include doctors and science based graduates in this general lacking. I feel the young people need to put pressure on or their habitat is gone for thousands of years. The Tui Mine site at MT. Te Aroha has contaminated ground water up to 14km around, and no serious monitoring occurs. The general symptoms of the poisoning of contaminants are easy to establish, and any patient going to primary health providers with these symptoms should be asked if they are drinking bore/stream water, and if so the water needs testing. This is a cost effective method of mapping problem areas, especially old mine areas like the Coromandel and Kaimai areas. I had to do my own testing as I couldn’t get answers or a listening ear from “professionals”, but they were quick to take the payment giving me little real answers. Shame at where our professionals are at, not denying there are many good ones out there, but too many are like this Government, just clipping the ticket.

    Went to a Waikato Royal Society series on Climate issues, good stuff, except for the soil expert who generally talked about the Dairy industry in glowing terms, not talking about the overall picture but giving statistics showing how competitive the dairy sector is with the rest of the world, and I felt if the energy going into propping the science of Dairy farming up was going into alternative crops we would be racing ahead. The comparisons did little to recognise the water quality science or talk of soils and how they will behave in expected change. When I asked if it was wise to continue the dependance on dairying given her assertions and the projected international economic impacts on markets she just gave a silly grin and superficial comment. To me an example of scientists not being honest as they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.

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