Zero risk tolerance for disrupting remediated land

We need zero risk tolerance for interfering with the protective cap on the foreshore of the “remediated” land and that the TDC apply the precautionary principle to any form of development that might disrupt the ground water flows and soil movements on that land and Waterfront Park – including the proposed powerboat launching ramp.

The Ministry for the Environment’s history of the Mapua contaminated site should be compulsory reading for every Councilor and  administrative staff at TDC who are or will be involved in Mapua Waterfront Management planning.  The community , regional and national efforts at “cleaning up” one of the world’s most toxic sites makes captivating, and sobering, reading.

Recent audit reports monitoring the slow “decontamination” of the land and foreshore – a process that will be ongoing for decades – show substantial uncertainty about what is happening to the toxins in the “remediated” soil in this low lying coastal land. Storms, storm-water runoff, earthquakes and global sea-level rise all impact on the “stability/instability” of this soil and the groundwater underneath. More human impact is risky, especially on the foreshore cap that bounds Waterfront Park. There are good reasons this cap was put there in the first place and it should be left undisturbed. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s comments – and their full investigative report – are still apropos:

In 2008, the remediation was completed. The long process was fraught with challenges. The type and scale of remediation was new territory for New Zealand, and indeed it would be astonishing if there had been no mistakes or errors of judgement. Further, although the remediation technology is now being used successfully overseas, that success must, to some extent, be based on the lessons learned by its owner from the less-than-satisfactory operation in its first commercial application” 

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