THE GREAT SOUTHLAND TOXIC COVER-UP

Ben’s World goes and visits two other locations in downtown Invercargill where dross, a toxin ‘allergic’ to water has been permitted to be stored in areas susceptible to flooding. And again in each case health and safety requirements were openly flouted with no repercussion from the authorities. At the Liddle St location, not only did we find Ouvea but we also smelt ammonia, a sign the chemicals are wet.

Building number 1. 162 Bond St Invercargill CBD Taha Healthy Soils with sign (that omits its classification as required) and assembly point. Assembly point is 15 feet from the front door. Legislation requires it to be in an area that exceeds distance of risk which for ammonia is 500 metres. 

If you look at the grass growing up in pictures of the Ouvea it is dead.Indication: toxins are leaching. The grass outside is also yellow and dead.

Site one address is Taha Healthy Soil 162 Bond St Invercargill.

This hazardous waste is stored next to a Fruit and Vegetable wholesaler in a flood prone area.It is opposite a BOC Gas. The firm was a subsidiary of Taha Asia Pacific and was removed from registry in 2016 after its CEO died of cancer.

The hazard sign (photo above) is bogus and does list its haz chem unit number. Unlike the correct signage below from a business which also stores flammable gas. This allows emergency services to know what the risk is and how to best treat the risk. The reason it’s not signed correctly is the waste inside is class 4, needing protective clothing and breathing respirator.

Authorities are trying to pretend that only class 6 is stored.


Liddle Street below also had Ouvea stored inside in large quantities. It is also stored in a flood prone area. This location reeks of the smell of ammonia, the sign that ouvea has got wet. That’s bad. Ammonia in waterways creates nitrates that feed algae that cause cancer. Ammonia is flammable. Liddle St is about 150- 200 metres from a major petrol station.

Liddle Street reeks of ammonia.


Liddle Street reeks of ammonia.

Recap I visited two site I knew were used for storage and found and photographed Ouvea in large quantities. Both sites are located in flood zones close to businesses also storing flammable materials. All three sites do not list the hazard classification on site, as is required when storing waste and thus breach district planning requirements. At the Bond St Site it’s located within 10 metres of where people work and food is stored.

Ouvea can also be found at Croyden Street

People we spoke to at the fruit and vegetable warehouse seem to think it was dropped there two years ago by a TNL truck. At Liddle St site (150-200 metres or so from a petrol station), I did a small video clip to catch the sound of machinery and people upstairs and I could also see large quantities of Ouvea through the crack of the door where the odour of ammonia is pungent and distinctive. We know of other sites that also contain dross or Ouvea at Winton and possibly two other sites. I am also investigating one at Bluff on Croyden St (which turned out to also have Ouvea). The other proved inconclusive. We also know 180,000 of actual tonnes of dross is stored at Tiwai. What happens to that if Tiwai closes? And at least two farmers including Graham Laidlaw say it was dumped on their farms.

The Taha waste at Mataura is listed as class 4, 6 and a third unlisted class, by a former Taha director Hamish McCallum who attended the Mataura public meeting and was just referred to as a “waste disposal expert”. The Gore District Council consent documents calls the Ouvea at the old paper mill class 6 but that can easily proved as also not true. Trucks moving the material from the Mataura location do not appear to be following health and safety protocols. And those involved are not being issued the correct protective clothing and equipment required by law to handle this material.

There is also the issue of what happened to the 35,000 tonnes at Edendale hidden in gravel which Environment South documents as containing high levels of a variety of toxins including heavy metal cyanide and fluoride. Where is it now? Our information tells us some is at Tiwai, while pres reports suggest some is stored at Winton AB Line (AB Line while not confirming this did sugggest no material had being brought in that would match required legislation. The material to be stored correctly at Winton would need to be diluted at a cost of $200.00 a tonne. That would cost 70 million. To move the stuff at Mataura would cost (using the same formula) over 20 million. It would need to be tested before it was allowed to be packaged and moved. Local and central government politicians are trying to draw public attention to only one site and the figure of 10,000 tonnes as they also downplay why ammonia in the water is a bad thing. They have failed to explain how it can create nitrate that stimulate algae linked to cancer as is now a recognised concern to New Zealand health officials due to a peer reviewed report called the Dane report.  The Southland Times has refused to publish this fact. Other media want too but are reluctant to touch the story in an election year for fear of upsetting the government.  

https://www.es.govt.nz/repository/libraries/id:26gi9ayo517q9stt81sd/hierarchy/about-us/plans-and-strategies/council-plans/annual-plan/documents/annual-reports/8.1%20-%202014-15_annual_report_summary_-_final.pdf


Environment South media wise has being largely silent on this issue. Environment South’s major sponsor for it’s awards are Tiwai. Tiwai relies on the wharf in Bluff that is 60% owned by Environment South. Environment South is guilty of major conflicts of interest. And has in this context failed the people of Southland

There are two companies involved; Taha Asia Pacific who went into liquidation in 2015 after prosecution for dumping 35,000 tonnes of material they called Ouvea but which proved to have heavy metal and other toxins in it as well. The second company is Taha Health Soil Ltd which was wound up in 2016 after its CEO Maurice Shaw (photo left) died of cancer. Taha officials are also being used by the local council to move this material and presumably are being paid for their involvement in how to clean up the mess they created when their parent firm liquidated. Taha Pacific liquidated in 2015.

The contract written by Hamish McCallum (the man now contracted to move the dross – for a third time now), states Tiwai owns the material, so McCallum maintains – the public have never being shown that contract. McCallum says they were only contracted to store it. Tiwai would have been responsible for packaging this material (and having it tested) which came from its plants and was loaded onto trucks on its premises. The government and council are responsible for ensuring the paper work and testing of materials prior to shipment was correct and the hazardous products were also stored and packaged correctly. This would require monitoring and inspections of sites. The existence of bogus signs hanging on the wall at all three locations is but one indication that authorities at the Invercargill City Council, Gore District Council and Central government did not execute due diligence when exercising their official duties. The failure of Health and Safety and ACC to get involved when incidents did occur (e.g Mataura workers made ill by the toxins) compounds that factor of gross negligence by the government at all levels.

Ben Vidgen.

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