Illegal dumps – another regional council failure
- Richie Cosgrove
Fish & Game is calling for an urgent nationwide audit of illegal rural dumps following a report revealing thousands of farmers may be breaking the law by burning or burying contaminated waste on their farms.
The media report says regional councils suspect thousands of tonnes of contaminated waste are being buried on farms every year.
Above Right: A farm dump on the Selwyn River upstream of Coes Ford,
Other waste such as plastic is being burned and there are concerns over how old or out of date sprays and poisons are being discarded.
Regional councils say while they are aware of what is happening, they claim there is little they can do about the practice.
Fish & Game New Zealand chief executive Martin Taylor says this is unacceptable.
“It is staggering that in this day and age, farmers are being given a free pass to pollute the environment by local councils prepared to turn a blind eye to it,” Martin Taylor says.
“The scale of this threat is significant. We need to know how much discarded spray, insecticide, oil and paint is being quietly buried in farm pits where it will poison the environment for decades to come.
“Not only could toxins flow into streams and rivers already struggling under intensive farming pollution, but it puts aquifers at risk and threatens communities,” Mr Taylor says.
“Regional councils must lift their game, urgently. The first thing we need is a national audit by the Ministry for the Environment to establish the scale of the problem and then a comprehensive plan to tackle it,” he says.
“Just as councils have failed the community protecting water quality from dairy pollution, they are now showing how they are failing to protect Kiwis from the toxic threat posed by illegal dumps.
“These dumps must be outlawed. There are schemes and reputable companies which handle such waste safely and efficiently and it should be compulsory to use them,” Martin Taylor says.