Proposed Oceania pipeline draws irrigators’ ire

A North Otago-based irrigators’ collective has slammed Oceania Dairy Ltd’s proposed pipeline project in a submission to Environment Canterbury against its construction.

Oceania Dairy, owned by Chinese dairy giant Yili group, lodged six consent applications with Environment Canterbury for the construction of a 7.5km pipeline that would allow it to discharge up to 10,000cum of treated wastewater into the sea per day.

Waitaki Irrigators Collective Ltd filed one of 117 submissions opposed to the project. Six submitters supported it, and three were neutral.

The collective requested further information on the project, but said based on the material provided, it did not "believe Oceania Dairy has ever completed a comprehensive analysis of just how they will cope with the wastewater discharge from their factory".

Consent documents state that while the company already has consent to discharge all its wastewater on to 404ha of surrounding farmland, the company has access to only 278ha and planned further expansion would increase the wastewater produced on-site.

However, the collective claimed the company’s current irrigation practices "have been inadequate and not reflective of best practice".

It also questioned what assurance the company would give that "the option of ocean disposal will be phased out" as technology was developed to manage contaminants.

"In these times of heightened sensitivity around environmental impacts stemming from primary industry, consent to discharge wastewater to any waterway would seem contrary to all the positive environmental changes and investment occurring in our region."

The collective is made up of shareholders from five irrigators and a society of individual irrigators, and represents an area of about 85,000ha in North Otago and South Canterbury.


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