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Serious pollution claimed due to illegal dumping at CJs

October 12th, 2011
[by David Armstrong]

Alarming claims that Motueka's aquifers have been seriously polluted by illegal dumping at CJ Industries' pit near the Motueka River dominated the public forum before yesterday's October meeting of the Motueka Community Board.

Several people attended the forum to support and add further comment to the strongly worded accusations by their representative, Dave De Long, that the council had ignored warnings over the past year or more of potential environmental hazards caused by a range of dumped materials at the pit.

Dave, a local businessman and convenor of the newly formed Motueka Residents Association, said he had evidence that materials dumped there were not in compliance with CJ's resource consent. Old fridges, possibly treated sawdust, green prunings, rubber tyres and glass were among the materials photographed there in the middle of 2010.

He said he could get a sworn affidavit from an ex CJ's employee testifying to the extent of illegal and dangerous dumpings. He also spoke several times about rumours going around that he had heard that "really bad stuff" had been dumped there, and that a second unspecified site was also being used in similar fashion.

He claimed that toxins from these materials will easily enter the aquifers from which we gain our drinking water, and that any flooding of the river will see huge erosion and land despoilation problems around the pit. He demanded that tests be taken of the water quality in the area and a full audit be done on CJ Industries' pit and its fringes.

He further demanded accountability for what he said was inadequate on-going monitoring by the council such that the problems had not been identified. He said that when he raised the issue with TDC staff last year he was fobbed off and had heard nothing since. He said the site is "a mini-Mapua in the making".

In response, board chairman David Ogilvie read the resource consent that CJ Industries had received, which specified what materials could be safely dumped there. He firmly urged Dave and his supporters to document a set of facts, not rumours, that could be proved.

He said "this is potentially a very serious issue indeed, which both the board and council must respond to", but in order for that to happen council would need to work with signed affidavits and proven facts. "If it is true, everyone on the community board and the district council will be very concerned indeed."

Arthur Walker, who had provided the set of photos last year of illegally dumped items, which were tabled at yesterday's meeting, said he knew for certain of some of the dumpings because he saw them with his own eyes. He had told Phil Drummond at the council but nothing had been done about it.

Later in the community board meeting proper, board members expressed surprise that it had taken so long for this matter to bubble away in private conversations without having been informed to community leaders. All present said it was the first time they had heard about it, and they worried that a rumour mill may be in operation blowing things out of proportion. That is why facts have to be established.

"I'm upset that these issues have been festering for a year and a half and people have not brought it before the community board before," said Cr Barry Dowler. David Ogilvie said he too was concerned it had got to such a head - "the community board should have been involved earlier".

In later discussions, it was suggested by those working in the vicinity of CJ's pit that many of the fears were unfounded - such as that sawdust dumped there may have been from treated timber (only untreated sawdust has been dumped). However, it was acknowledged that CJ Industries may have been the author of their own otherwise good intentions, in that much of the dumped materials got there by people trespassing and that the access gates should have been more secure.

The community board will await documentation of concerns by Dave De Long and ensure that the council investigates these documented issues in the light of the resource consent that CJ Industries has.


Editorial note:
[Posted 13 October 2011]

This issue was also reported in the Nelson Mail yesterday, and that report which you can read here, includes further details and reader comments.

>> Email a comment on this article, to be added to the page. [If this link doesn't work, use this form instead]

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