“As the sun goes down again. Here comes another winter of long shadows and high hopes
Here comes another winter waitin’ for utopia. Waitin’ for hell to freeze over – The The (Heartland).
In February 2020 floods in Southland were declared as the biggest in 35 years. A state of emergency was declared in Mataura and people were soon being evacuated. The rain had stopped but the rivers were set to peak later in the day.
However it soon emerged the evacuation was in part being motivated due to the presence of 10,000 tonnes of toxic waste from the Tiwai aluminium smelter stored in the old paper mill on the banks of the Mataura River and a risk of their releasing noxious gases on coming into contact with water. It was a known hazard, and locals had been trying for years to get the stuff moved. Volunteers sandbagging the mill were suddenly ordered to leave and were not allowed back in, highlighting the danger at work.
Not long after the exposure of this event mainstream media, with incomes heavily reliant on smelter suppliers and interrelated agriculture based business, went into damage control doing their best to downplay the risk and address who exactly was responsible.
Calls have now been made to fast-track the removal of the Ouvea premix out of the warehouse after emergency services were called to the former paper mill building on Sunday. Frost burst a sprinkler pipe on the outside of the building and water seeped inside, where ouvea premix is being stored. Of less concern to those in government is will this be done safely and where is the toxic waste to go exactly. Especially in light of Tiwai’s likely closure.
My February 5th 2020 article, which also documented trucks moving the ouvea with no hazard signs or in large polyprop bags (as opposed to in sealed drums), deals with the history of the ouvea and how it was manufactured at the Tiwai point under contract by a firm Taha Asia and related companies Taha Healthy Soils.
Firms set up in a manner which distanced the smelter from responsibility with said companies, who later went into liquidation. Thus landing local councils, including the Southland and Gore district Council, who had agree to store the materials, with the responsibility they don’t appear to want or recognise.
It highlighted how those now tasked with dealing with the February 20th disaster, including former Taha director Hamish Mcullum (to be fair said to have fallen out with the company’s other directors), would be among those who the government now turned to for help and continue to do so. Despite a lack of trust in these individuals from the local community. Most of these key facts would be omitted in MSM reporting post the February flooding event.
Certainly not mentioned in Southland’s toxic flood problem is it’s not just dross that is an issue. It also has local gold and coal mines that use industrial chemicals, it has waste ponds, milk plant and is a transport hub. Not forgetting all the stuff stored in farmers’ back sheds over the decades or 1080 also found dumped in local dumps.
Toxic waste outside Mataura included large volumes of toxic waste from the Christchurch earthquake to be dumped near Winton in Southland, and this includes asbestos taken south in modified general shipping containers, not in the purpose-built containers.
Further a post flooding engineers report into old landfill sites at Gore and Mataura showed both land fill sites pose environmental risks to the river and community. With flood damaged furniture upstream of the old mill declared off limits due to potential toxic contamination. Locals report trucks from local industries entering these sites at odd times of the night.
These dumps are among nearly 220 rubbish tips nationwide at risk due to coastal erosion and extreme flooding. Billions in clean up cost no wants to own.
It appears something is rotten in the heart land.
The Heartland PART TWO
My Feb 7th ‘Whats being Omitted As Oldboys try to Control the Narrative On Toxic Spill Southland’ listed 10 points contained in a twenty minute video podcast listed on the same blog.
1. A summary outlined as above.
2. It was not just ouvea dross being stored at Matarua but the site contained many toxins from other sites not being raised in the national media.
At the public meeting I read these toxins out from the very blunt Southland Environment report which basically said my bosses are ass covering twats. TVNZ’s camera man obliged me by filming me but sadly my voice (and the list of chemicals on site) was then edited out with the news caster speaking over the visuals as they repeated the downplayed issues and failed to mention what the actual hazards to people’s health was. They also chose to edit out the standing ovation at the end of the talk as the packed room rose to say they demanded the government do something now.
As MSM incorrectly kept calling the Ouvea a hazard six waste.
Gore District Council Submission papers state the ouvea premix, is in fact made up of Class six and class four including:
Cast-House Ouvea Premix: 7,556 tonnes (contain heavy metals)
Landfill Ouvea Premix: 1,614 tonnes
Bag-house Ouvea Premix: 774 tonnes
MRP Bag-House Ouvea Premix 8 tonnes
Sulphate of Ammonia 8 tonnes
Citric Acid: 350 kg
Diesel: 100 litres.
Ouvea in fact consists of “aluminium oxide, aluminium nitride and magnesium aluminate, sodium and calcium salts and other trace metals”. It is present at Mataura in large dosages. Some of it is highly lethal if digested or breathed in. This material is not a class six hazard but a class four requiring far more stringent protocol and safety measures.
3. I further identified further dumpsites at Edendale (in 2015 later removed), and at three location in Invercargill in the heart of the CBD.
4. One of the Invercargill locations was around 200 metres from a petrol station in a flood prone area (all sites were in flood prone areas), even though the waste threatens to ignite if it comes in contact with water. The location reeked of ammonia when I visited.
5. As opposed to 10,000 tonnes of dross the original Edendale environmental case sites (which produced the Environmental South report) states 32,000 tonnes at that site alone. My total figure including dross I also located still stored on Tiwai itself was around 120,000 tonnes. This is very conservative and based on figures (2012 to current day) given for smelter production and the online figures given for a new smelter being around .05% per kg of smeltered product.
6. The Invercargill, Mataura, sites had signs that were not in line with required legislation and clearly have not being signed off or inspected by council when first dropped at their current locations. Councils on this issue alone had not paid full diligence to their duties.
7.Speaking to Winton Fertiliser and farmers who had temporarily had dross dumped on their farms (being told it was fertiliser), I learned the material had to be put on trucks without correct signage and safety measures for a hazard of that nature. That it would be required to be diluted to be stored in a waste dump. Specifically a ration of ten tonnes lime per tonne of waste. Meaning the 120,000 tonnes became 1.2 million tonnes with a cargo weight of $200 per tonne it equals a disposal cost of close to $300 million. A sum way less than what the government has provided to date.
8. The largest fact omitted is why it’s bad when ammonia comes in contact with water.
Namely because it encourages bowel cancer as induced by high levels of nitrate that ammonia helps produce.
Southland has to date the top bowel cancer figures for the country already. This issue in fact is not just central to Southland but one of the factors facing dairy and forestry industries which have ignored warnings not to over fertilise lands for decades. The risk of nitrate stimulation is a fact which is not only inducing a major health issue but adding water cost which these same industries now wish to pass on to the public.
FACT CANCER RATES ARE 1 in 2 for Women right now and 1 in 3 for men in the next 25 years that are anticipated to rise by 50% (think about that statement for 10 seconds if you will). Our country is per square mile one of the most chemically saturated nations in the world. New Zealand rates as the 64th highest country for cancer deaths in 25 years. It is expected that we will rise to the top 40 and don’t expect it to fall any in the ranking anytime soon. Because we’re absolutely soaking in every cancerous precursor you care to name.
And the ones who want this glossed over are those with the very same interests moving into the arena of managing water infrastructure and infrastructure rebuilds brought on by serial abuse of water reservoirs. In part boosted by money borrowed during the covid 19 response and spent on projects not requiring oversight, tender review or public consultation. This follows on from laws passed during and on the eve of the covid 19 crisis.
9. District government, fire services and Civil Defence, were contradicted by local witnesses and expert academics, in terms of what has happened and what the risk may pose. And in addition by testimony recorded in archives relating to initial hearings on the publicly rejected proposal to store the waste. Also on record in materials found in Southland environment’s own report (regarding Ouvea dumped at Edendale), plus legislation relating to who was responsible for the waste as likewise found in maritime safety legislation, work and safety production guidelines, ACC and the fire services guidelines, that defined signage requirements accountability and define chemical risk classification and what’s required to shift and transport such material.
10. As I focus on my Feb 16th video and blog DOWN PLAYED no hazardous material was ever given to volunteers and on trucks. I mean no hazardous protective clothing was given to volunteers and no hazardous warning signs were on the trucks as material was moved in wool sacks and not sealed drums.
This is a repeat of the asbestos moved from Christchurch to Winton with no signs, incorrectly and unsafely transported. Photos as current as July show the material continues to move in an unsafe and illegal manner (though loaders do now appear to have masks but not hazmat suits), with no government oversight by the required ministry responsible for environmental safety and work and safety enforcement.
The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act of 1975 (HMTA) (amended 1993) empowers, the Secretary of Transportation to designate as hazardous material any “particular quantity or form” of a material that “may pose an unreasonable risk to health and safety or property.” And the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 states “Testing of substances is required where packaging for a hazardous substance that is a dangerous good is manufactured in New Zealand, it must be certified as meeting the requirements set out in subclause (1)(a) by an accredited testing laboratory”.
That is to say to ship this stuff, as the man from Taha Hamish McCullum acknowledged in front of four hundred fifty witnesses (where he also admitted it included class four materials), will mean having to repackage it. That is clearly not happening.
This will be done allegedly via sealing it in drums and as it’s to be packaged the transport legislation is clear the material must first be tested by an accredited laboratory. And if it’s not the person in charge is personally open to prosecution. But that is again clearly (photo below) not happening.
The safe brief sheets further state breathing apparatus and hazmat suit are required to move this material and getting anyone to do so without such protective material opens them to prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017. These as matter of interest also include provision for Private prosecutions. The Health and Safety at Work Act (2015) (the Act) specifically provides that in certain circumstances private prosecutions may be initiated (S 144) when the regulator cannot, or chooses not to, prosecute a work health and safety event. Under new amendment to the act 2015.
Low culpability is up to $500,000. Medium culpability is between $500,000 and $1,000,000. High culpability is between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000. Prosecution can occur without a provable injury but is reviewed upon the basis of potential for an injury through unsafe work practices.
On February of 18th I made another video The Great Southland Toxic Cover Up after tracking down the Invercargill sites and filming bags upon bags of dross stored inside and showing the fictional signs put up by Taha. Signs which obviously were never inspected by the authorities.
We also found out why Environment South was being silent on this issue. Environment South’s major sponsor for its 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 failed the people of Southland like a really bad pair of leaky gumboots.
Part Three The West Coast Connection.
But wait it gets better. Just prior to lock down I drove down the West Coast investigating further waste dump sites and connections to Tiwai Point.
Reading back through promises made by Tiwai (who have a record of leaving their mess behind), Taha claimed to have spent more than $10 million on a crushing plant to make the product easier to transport and use. It boasted 6500 tonnes packed into 250 containers at Tiwai Point ready to be shipped after space in the SCL sheds reached full capacity. The company had also allegedly funded a purpose-built truck for Freight Haulage to carry the SCL to Westport.
Spent Cell Lining (SCL) is a waste product from the smelting of aluminium which is considered to be a hazardous waste in many countries because it contains significant quantities of absorbed fluorides and traces of cyanide. Current opportunities for processing this material are limited, and for New Zealand, Australia along with many other countries the primary option has been to ship the material offshore to specialist destruction facilities. Which worked until Australian port workers in 2010 went um… no thanks.
In 2010 NZAS’ commercial services manager Jason Franklin then confirmed NZSA could not afford to keep storing waste on site. Part of the solution was a signed deal to ship SCL (pot lining dross) to Westport to Holcim which closed in 2014).
Inspection of the site by this author confirmed hazard sign warnings for various toxins including aqua toxins and radioactive material were hung on the fences. Holcim quarry is in close proximity to the sea and where my guide stated it was common knowledge “that all sort of material went into that water filled quarry”. The site was fenced off and marked as private property making entry nonviable but again we could see hazard warning site signs hung at the second gate located further into the property.
This location is close to where thousands of rats recently died after heavy rains and marine life was washed on shore also dead in 2019. The DOC under public pressure tested for 1080 which it claimed it did not find but it did not test for other substances.
It was also disturbing as the anti 1080 independent scientist Nick Wall, who claims he had found 1080 in the rats, emerged as a specialist in no less than toxic waste disposal and had multiple mining contracts. When I interviewed him personally I found he was unable and unwilling to provide documentation or give specific details to his claims that his work was ‘peer reviewed’ and had included other substances and some of his statements were simply false. This is consistent with other media outlets who also found him an unreliable and a uncredible source.
Mr Wall is based in Timaru where waste firms can also be found shipping waste to Winton AB Fertiliser and where local media allege dross has been moved. Such shipments appears affiliated with the same parties who plan to ship “Christchurch” waste including asbestos to AB as well.
There appears to be a similarity in styles and methodology with some of Mr Wall claims to Taha attempts to find means to get rid of waste and a general waste disposal industry who have a talent for selling snake oil. Mr Wall’s own company office profile and that of his associates in Australia and the mining site he claims to have worked for only add to that image of a man adept at selling packaging over substance.
Similar pop up firms have now emerged in Taha Asia Pacific styled operation (meaning sounds as suss as hell) which seeks to build an incinerator to burn such waste. This was to have been built in Westport then moved to Christchurch. However once the Buller Mayor Garry Howard was found to have signed what appears to be an agreement to give the Westport plant the go-ahead without telling the public or district councillors the plan fell through.
Part Three Renewed Cynicism
This agreement was between Renew Energy Ltd and Chinese company China Tianying Inc – and Howard signed while on a visit to China in May 2018. A week later, Renew Energy chief executive David McGregor told Stuff it had signed a $300m deal with the Chinese investor and promised 350 jobs for the district ala Taha processing plant promises. One of the directors is Mark Anthony Mcintye whose address is listed as 84 Lighthouse Road, Cape Foulwind New Zealand. That is the address located at the site of the former Holcim workers village. Mr Mcintyre’s interest also extends to Buller Electricity company, John Bro Transport, the Murchison fertiliser company and Bathhurst Coal.
Bathhurst Coal is one of the firms likely to have used privately built industrial waste sites such as the one at Granity (photo below) which is now washing into the ocean and first built by solid energy in the 1970’s.
The Cape Foulwind furnace was built in conjunction with Aurecon and Holcim New Zealand. Liddell Contracting won the Silver Award of Excellence for the Spent Cell Liner Handling and Disposal Plant at Cape Foulwind Westport. But we have heard nothing of Liddel involvement since. The plant designed by Aurecon and built and commissioned by Liddell was owned by Holcim New Zealand. The plant does document dealings with unprocessed SCL. The final design was a fully sealed automated handling and storage system with built in safety and hydrogen drainage systems. But we’re given no explanation as to where it drained to exactly.
Meanwhile the question also remains if Holcim closed where is the SCL and not just Ouvea sent for disposal now and what about the stuff being produced at Tiwai currently. This is not being sent overseas as Australian dock handlers refused to handle Tiwai waste from 2010 on wards. Though sources say some materials (undefined)is being moved via Bluff Port and shipped to Argentina.
On 9th of March my findings were sent to Labour’s minister of The Environment David Parker, via local dross activists, at which point nothing was ever heard again at least not by this author. They included details on Renew Energy. Toxic material that is currently being pulled down at Cape Foulwind is now allegedly being sent to the AB Fertiliser Winton dump which based on early investigation seems unlikely. Not at least in the permitted legal and costly method outlined above, requiring ten to one lime dilution and a bill heading into the hundreds of millions.Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says the party will keep the Tiwai smelter open for at least three more years.
Renew Energy like Taha also has an overseas director based in the Middle East, Christopher John Moniz, and I note in one press photo it’s located at the same premises as Ceres NZ (a subsidiary of Ceres USA a firm with a dubious history). Ceres also disposes of Asbestos from Invercargill’s old CBD. Renew has nearly 132,000 tonnes of rubbish it is seeking a home for as Reefton reject the proposed burn off plant and was looking to set up in Hokitika as of August 2019.
Renew director Gerard Gallagher, when general manager of Enterprise Ashburton, was found to have engaged in serious misconduct while working for the now defunct Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (a Ceres NZ client) and that is now currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. In September Gallagher was charged along with Simon Carl Nikoloff. Nikoloff and Gallagher have pleaded not guilty and are set to go to trial next year.
Co-director Murray Cleverley was also under investigation (fate unknown). Cleverly is a fellow of both the New Zealand Institute of Management and the New Zealand Institute of Directors, and a life member of South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce Cleverly’s co fellow at the Institute for Directors is Thomas Campbell, chair of Electricity Invercargill Ltd and chair of Southern Generation GP Ltd, a former managing director of Comalco and former general manager of the Tiwai Smelter. He now works as an independent company director. Tom’s directorships include Todd Corporation and Port Otago Ltd. He is chair of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and was chair of the Southland Regional Development Strategy governance group.
The firm is also currently storing 4000 bales at a site on Spencerville Rd, without consent but ECan issued an abatement notice requiring them to move the waste by February 28. The company baling and storing the waste for Renew is ERP Group ltd/Wheelie Waste Ltd.
I had hoped to investigate this site directly as the bags which emerged in the Stuff article look awfully familiar to what I have found at the Mataura, Liddle St (which reeks of ammonia and is about 200 meters from a petrol station) and Bind St sites in Invercargill. Sadly the covid lock down prevented that.
I have also read the full consent applications and reviewed similar cases involving ammonia and stressed to the minister, a former lawyer for the agricultural sector, that safety and transport protocols have not been followed in regard to clear provisions listed for moving storing and handling these materials. That according to the consent submission do not include just Ouvea but also a host of extremely toxic and dangerous materials.
Meanwhile Southland can expect more flooding and the risk of major crisis to only escalate.
Sadly those in charge seem more manipulative Muppet to deadly greedy puppets as opposed to Wombles. Oh how we wish it was otherwise.