Waikato Regional Council under fire

WEAK and pathetic is how one Tuakau resident described the action taken by Waikato Regional Council (WRC) over the continued non-compliance and unlawful activity identified at the Envirofert Cleanfill site in Tuakau.

In October last year The Post Newspaper broke a story about illegal WaterCare sludge material being deposited at Envirofert. WRC appointed BBO (Bloxam Burnett & Olliver) to do an independent investigation into the Cleanfill site.

The Post was contacted by Richard Duirs, a Senior Environmental Planner at BBO for any information around our investigation into unlawful depositing of material in Tuakau.
The Post understands that the investigation is over and that a report has been given to WRC. The Post believes that the report contains recommendations to WRC on actions recommended to reverse any damage done by Envirofert to the environment.

The Post has repeatedly asked for the release of the report and recommendations. We have requested them under the Official Information Act but council at this point refuses to release the report.
WRC did release the following statement through Chris McLay, Waikato Regional Council’s Resource Use Director:
On March 23 Waikato Regional Council issued Envirofert with two formal warnings and two abatement notices, as well as a letter of direction regarding unlawful activity identified at the Tuakau cleanfill.

This follows an information gathering process carried out since it was identified in October 2017 that Envirofert had deposited non-cleanfill paper pulp and filter sludge to its cleanfill in Tuakau.’
In keeping with Council’s enforcement policy, the information gathered was recently reviewed by its enforcement decision group, comprising of three managers, and the decision was made to instigate enforcement action.

Council has also directed Envirofert to immediately cease the deposition of non-cleanfill material. In doing so, Council is sending a clear message to Envirofert that they are on notice to take prompt action to modify the cleanfill operation to make it lawful.

Council has also told Envirofert that the abatements and formal warnings will be taken into account when considering Council’s response if there are any future non-compliance incidences.
The company should be hearing loud and clear that Council—and the Tuakau community—requires changes to be made to this operation. The community can be assured that Council will be monitoring the company’s compliance with these directives.

The abatement notices issued
• A directive to cease the deposition of non-cleanfill material at the cleanfill and not recommence such deposition.
• A directive to engage experts to prepare and submit to the Council, by 1 May 2018, a thorough and detailed plan on the actions it will take to ensure the cleanfill operation is operated lawfully. Envirofert will then be required to implement this plan.

The warnings issued
• For the unlawful deposition of the non-cleanfill material and the subsequent discharge of contaminated leachate—one for the filter sludge and the other for the paper pulp.

Letter of direction
• In response to the remaining non-compliance identified during the 2016/17 compliance assessment of the cleanfill operation (the pulp and sludge issues aside), the letter of direction requires Envirofert to undertake specific actions to address these other issues.

The Post Newspaper contacted Ryan Marra for a comment only to find he is no longer the CEO of Envirofert.
One neighbour of Envirofert had the following to say,“We have been complaining to WRC for years regarding the activities taking place at the cleanfill site, the odours, the non-compliance and now when council has an opportunity to be open and transparent and take action it’s response is weak and pathetic.”

The Post Newspaper will continue to press for the release of the report and will follow up on this story. We will also hope to bring you comment from Envirofert’s new CEO and WRC .
Your comments: steve@thepost.nz

Envirofert Cleanfill site in Tuakau

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