‘Madness’ to stop coastal waste move

It would be "madness" if a Southland landfill was stopped from taking rubbish out of a historic dump site where waste was in danger of being washed into the sea, its general manager says.

Southland’s key landfill last year applied for new consents that would allow the removal of the of 100,000 tonnes-per-annum waste cap, as well as allowing waste acceptance in emergency response situations.

AB Lime general manager Stephen Smith’s evidence would be one of several people presenting at this month’s consent hearing.

In it, he said the landfill nearly reached its cap last year.

During 2020 it received 91,254 tonnes of waste, up from 68,799 tonnes in 2019.

"Under our existing consent, we are very concerned that any approaches to take larger volumes of waste will have to be rejected by us, no matter the waste.

"This restriction of an operational tonnage cap is out of step for modern Class 1 landfill facilities."

He says he appreciated the removal of the volume cap created a perception of "unlimited" effects, which had caused community alarm.

"It is how we manage the waste we accept that is important, not the volume we accept."

While there had been opposition from community members, waste was accepted from outside the region.

Mr Smith said waste acceptance should not be restricted by regional boundaries.

This statement follows the company recently being approached about receiving 6000 tonnes of waste from two historic closed landfills in coastal Otago.

The Otago Daily Times understands these landfills to be on Beach Rd, south of Oamaru.

"There is an imminent danger of the waste from these old landfills being washed into the sea," Mr Smith said.

"It appears like madness to me that I cannot do anything to help in this situation if the waste meets our consented criteria, because of our current landfill tonnage cap."

He said the application did not threaten its ability to take all Southland’s waste for many generations.

Their landfill offered an option to other city and district council solutions under standard compliance and environmental constraints, he said.

Referring again to submissions received to date, he referenced the landfill taking on emergency waste and said it was seeking to formalise the ability to do that.

This included Mycoplasma bovis cows and Bonamia ostreae oysters.

During 2018, the landfill accepted about 5000 cattle carcasses (1127 tonnes) and 1919 tonnes of oysters and mussels.

At the time, nearby residents made submissions detailing the associated odour.

"We understand that during the past, particularly the highlighted cow and shellfish events, we have fallen short in preventing objectionable and offensive odour effects on your property, which has impacted your quality of life."

A large section of his evidence detailed the situations and whether they created distrust in parts of the community.

"We have never had the ability to tell this story.

"In both these cases, we felt that we were trying to urgently help our struggling primary industries."

Mr Smith said the environmental standards under a new consent would be a lot higher and would therefore have associated benefits.

The hearing will be held from May 17 at the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club.

laura.smith@odt.co.nz

 

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