Following an in depth investigation, the Post Newspaper can now reveal that the liquid discharged recently from a sucker truck was not just drilling mud as previously stated.
On Monday 9 January 2017, Envirofert allowed a truck from Waiuku Waste Disposal to discharge drilling mud that contained elevated levels of faecal coliforms onto its Cleanfill site.
In what can only be described as an unexpected twist, it looks as though Waikato Regional Council may have overstepped its authority by allowing Envirofert Limited to determine what liquids and waste materials can be dumped at its Cleanfill site in Tuakau.
Waikato Regional Council have allowed Envirofert Limited to accept a wider range of materials by adopting a management plan that appears to be at odds with its original consents.
According to Stephen Ward, Senior Communications Advisor, he states: “Note that the Cleanfill at Tuakau, run by Envirofert, is not a ‘pure’ cleanfill site. It has been granted consent to take a greater range of material than a pure Cleanfill site. The Cleanfill is designed to the more stringent WASTEMINZ landfill two standard but only operates as a lower risk class three landfill.”
The statement above talks about a class of Cleanfill site which does not appear on any of the 18 resource consent documents for this site. Could this be a complete spin and misdirection on behalf of the Waikato Regional Council?
Waikato Regional Council has a responsibility to safeguard the public’s interest. However, we ask the community to consider whose interest they appear to be looking after.
Envirofert Limited as a company stands to gain financially through any relaxation of consent conditions.
There is no dispute about their right to operate a Cleanfill site – it is the fact that it appears that they are operating beyond their consent permissions.
The Post can now also reveal that it appears as if the Waikato Regional Council has also allowed Envirofert to take toxic Stormwater pond material, which perhaps should have gone to a class one site, and not a Cleanfill.
In the light of the Healthy Rivers initiative, and everything the Regional Council is doing to protect the environment, we question this relaxation on consents.
We wonder if farmers, who need to submit management plans going forward, will be given same consideration?
One is forced to ask why this is being allowed, and what the Waikato Regional Council is going to do to address the serious issues that appear to be taking place on the site in Tuakau?
If the community and the environment really matter to the Waikato Regional Council then we believe a full audit, disclosure of materials and proper investigation should be launched into the resource consent and relaxations surrounding them.
This audit and investigation should also include the role of Waikato Regional Council and their decision to allow for the relaxation of the original consent conditions.
The Post has drilled down through the layers of complexity after being presented with a photo showing a sucker truck discharging liquids onto the Tuakau Cleanfill site operated by Envirofert Limited. We investigated the photographs further, and wrote a balanced article, suggesting people should not assume that it was sewerage just because of the image presented. Trust the process – the process failed; and we ask why?
- Envirofert Limited, Waikato Regional Council and Waiuku Waste Disposal all indicated ‘it’s just drilling mud.’ Waikato Regional Council also confirmed that Envirofert was consented for the matter. Kim Willoughby, Director at Envirofert Limited, was confident that his staff would recognise if the load was not just drilling mud. Waiuku Waste Disposal also confirmed that the truck was clean. However, the Post was concerned in general about liquids being discharged on a consented Cleanfill site.
- Thursday 12 January, Waikato Regional Council inspects the site and finds ‘nothing wrong’, but takes two samples for testing. The tests came back and it is confirmed that the drilling mud is contaminated.
- Alarm bells begin to ring. The Post asks what else this Cleanfill site is being allowed to accept as ‘Cleanfill’? We dig deeper into the resource consents and talk to Waikato Regional Council.
- The Post is informed by Waikato Regional Council that Envirofert Limited is not a ‘pure’ Cleanfill site, and is allowed a wider range of materials as per their management plan.