New Environment Minister Nick Smith today released the independent report commissioned by the Ministry for the Environment into its handling of the Mapua contaminated site clean-up near Nelson.
"This report confirms failings in the ministry's handling of the clean-up, but most importantly provides a clear way forward for resolving the issues and future site clean-ups."
The chief executive, Dr Paul Reynolds, commissioned the independent report by Australian environmental expert Chris Bell in response to concerns raised by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the Environment Select Committee of Parliament.
"The ministry has accepted that mistakes were made at Mapua and is rectifying these. The chief executive has advised me that he accepts the report in full and will be implementing its recommendations.
"The ministry erred in not having good project and financial management systems, in not complying with the resource consent around marine sediments, and in failing to deal effectively with conflicts of interest.
"While these failings were disappointing, I recognise that this was New Zealand's most contaminated site, was adjacent to a sensitive estuary and residential area, and that the site is far safer for the community and the environment than it was.
"This report also points to problems in the Resource Management Act, and the ministry's role that we will be addressing with our RMA reforms and proposed new Environmental Protection Authority.
"The next steps in putting right the problems of Mapua are the validation report due very soon, the Public Health Service report in March, the site audit report which should be completed by June, and the Department of Labour report. The Environment and Local Government Select Committee will also report back on its findings.
"I am determined that we put matters right with the people of Mapua, complete these necessary reports, and learn the lessons from this for future site clean-ups."
The full report is available at: www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/hazardous/contaminated/mapua/remediation-mapua-report