Some of Wanganui's largest businesses could be temporarily
shut down if the Wanganui District Council receives an
expected abatement notice from Horizons Regional Council.
Mayor Annette Main confirmed that she was waiting to receive
an abatement notice today relating to the stench which has
been wafting over the city from the malfunctioning wastewater
treatment plant for the past month.
Six Wanganui businesses - known as wet industries - are
implicated in three recent dumps of excess waste, including
fat, protein material and sulphides, into the wastewater
treatment plant. These businesses are Tasman Tanning, Open
Country Dairy, AFFCO Imlay, Land Meat, Mars, and Cavalier
It is not known which business, or businesses, is responsible
for the dumps.
Ms Main said the abatement notice would have implications for
"If we can't abide by the abatement notice to get rid of the
smell, the only thing we can do is go back to the industries
and stop them putting their waste into the treatment plant.
"And yes, that could potentially close them down."
Ms Main told the Wanganui Chronicle she wrote to each
of the businesses yesterday to tell them the dumping needed
to stop, "whether it's by accident or not".
Previously, she said the businesses she had spoken to "had
all indicated they did not wish the dumping to happen."
"And since we can't prove which company it was, all we can do
is write to every single one of them, remind them of their
obligations under their consents, and tell them that the
public of Wanganui expects them to be abiding by them."
Ms Main said each of these business had a trade waste
discharge consent which was specific to that business. Tasman
Tanning has two consents because it operates from two sites.
She said the consents had to be renewed every year.
"When a business signs up to a trade waste discharge consent,
it is agreeing that it can operate within that level. So
there should be no reason for any of them to breach their
"The consents talk about maximum volumes, what can be in [the
waste] - how much suspended solids, what the pH has to be,
how much oil and grease, how much sulphate. They're also
supposed to have flow meters, although it's my understanding
that not all of them do.
"And if a discharge isn't recorded then it's just gone."
Ms Main said the system needed to be changed so that
information was provided to the council on "who was dumping
She said it was possible Horizons could prosecute the council
over the smell, although she thought that was unlikely.
"I am worried about prosecution because that would mean a
fine, and a fine would mean money that could better be used
to fix the problem at the plant," she said.
Horizons issued the council with a warning notice in
December, saying it had breached regional rules relating to
discharge to air.
Horizons' general manager of strategy and regulation, Nic
Peet, confirmed that Horizons would be taking further action
But he said Horizons supported the council in working to
solve its problems with the plant.
"Our role is as the regulator, but we will assist where
appropriate," Mr Peet said.
- By Anne-Marie Emerson of the Wanganui Chronicle