Unfinished business angers Mapua residents

Thursday 19 March 2009, 10:42PM
By Green Party


Residents living next to the Mapua site contaminated by pesticides still have numerous questions regarding their health and the health of the local environment, said the Green Party’s Toxics spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

Ms Delahunty facilitated a community meeting last night in Mapua where local people discussed their health and environmental concerns as well as their frustration at the lack of proper communication from the authorities involved in the controversial clean-up of the site. Tasman District Council staff also attended the meeting.

The clean-up itself was investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment after complaints about its effectiveness and safety.

“The Ministry for the Environment as the clean-up consent holder appears to have failed to ensure that the regular and effective consultation with residents was carried out,” said Ms Delahunty.

Feedback from last night’s meeting suggest residents have lost faith in official reports which have yet to address their concerns in accessible language and to include all their concerns.

Questions were also raised about the toxicity of dust from the clean-up process which is still inside local houses and the ecological health of the local estuary where sediment tests revealed some high readings of chemical residues.

Residents who live with these issues want the option of health support and monitoring like that provided for people near the Ivon Watkins Dow (IWD) agri-chemicals factory at Paritutu in New Plymouth and the sawmill workers in Whakatane. They also want more off-site monitoring of the local environment.

The local people particularly want to know the location of chemical dump sites associated with the pesticide factory which are not publicly available.

“This is a national problem,” Ms Delahunty said. “Councils do not provide information about the location of all known contaminated sites on public land as a matter of public interest. The Green Party considers these reports should be publicly available. We will continue to support the people of Mapua until they receive proper recognition of their issues and redress for their concerns.”

“What the residents want most of all is to be taken seriously and treated with respect by all officials after a process which may have improved the safety of the former pesticide factory itself but may also have spread contamination around their community.”

Note: A number of new reports about Mapua are due in the next two months including a Ministry of Health report, a Department of Labour report on heath and safety issues and an audit of the entire clean-up process.