Tag Archives: RDC

Exposing the pollution of your waterways may well incur a violent backlash as two Horowhenua residents found out – the ongoing lip service Councils pay to Iwi, the RMA & ‘sustainable development’

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John Andrews, environmentalist, says he was  attacked on his own property [Photo: Maori TV]

“A 70-year-old man has been bashed in a late night attack at his home in Horowhenua. Staunch environmentalist John Andrews says he may have been a target as he had highlighted pollution issues from the Shannon Sewage Treatment Plant into the Otāuru River.” (Maori Television)

Mr Andrews said he had been attacked from behind on his own property, kicked and bashed in the head and other parts of his body. He said he saw three men in the attack and a possible fourth as well. When this incident first appeared on Facebook he was reported as saying that the parting comment of one of his attackers were words to the effect of “Lord Duffy said ‘hello'”. (Here is a link to Stuff’s report on the attack).

Although the Facebook post made it clear Mr Andrews was just relaying what was said, and not saying he connected the incident with Levin’s Mayor Brendan Duffy, ensuing comments in the media have understandably, correctly or otherwise, suggested there is a link. Any connection with the incident however is denied by the Mayor.  

 

“We had had an altercation with the Regional Council earlier in the day out there and I don’t know if there’s any connection and I would only be speculating if there was, but this fight has been going on for years,” John Andrews. (by Maori Television)

Shannon, where Mr Andrews lives, lies within the jurisdiction of the Horowhenua District Council.

2Copy of statements
Horowhenua Chronicle

Mr Andrews had been at the Mangaore Stream earlier in the day with Horowhenua District Councillor Ross Campbell, when Cr Campbell filmed footage of the treatment ponds and the discharging of raw sewage into the steam. Cr Andrews had then talked with a worker at the plant, who agreed to turn the pump off.

3Copy of statements
Horowhenua Chronicle

Subsequently, footage of sewage and toilet paper in the water was posted on social media, footage that the HDC claims is a distortion of facts, even suggesting the toilet paper was put there by somebody.  (View footage here). (There were other videos posted also which may or may not be related but do indicate the concern that exists with this pollution).

The Pollution of Lake Horowhenua

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Lake Horowhenua, its water now so toxic it could kill, polluted for decades by discharge of local sewage and farm effluent

This is not the first time this Council has come under the spotlight for pollution of its natural water resources, or that people who have highlighted pollution have incurred a violent backlash. As indicated, the fight over pollution has been going on with the HDC for years. This claim is borne out in the history of Lake Horowhenua, a natural resource that is owned by the Muaupoko Iwi. This once pristine lake, dubbed by the Listener as the ‘lake of shame’, had been transformed  from a valuable source of income and kai  … into a literal toilet bowl. Raw sewage had been pumped into it for two decades starting in the 1950s (tantamount to emptying a septic tank’s contents onto your vegetable garden) and although it ceased in the 1980s, the lake has continued to be polluted to this day by effluent from surrounding dairy farming, by some sewage and from local agricultural activity. The price tag to clean up the pollution and realize the dream of having swimmers cross the lake last ANZAC day (2015)  was estimated by Horizons to be $2.886 million. It is one of the top ten most polluted lakes in New Zealand and testing has revealed just a small glassful has the potential to kill a small child. A former HDC Councilor Anne Hunt said when in office, that one of the worst polluters of the lake was the HDC (see video at 3.56 minutes). The Crown has admitted this:

“The Crown has conceded it failed to protect Lake Horowhenua from pollution, breached the Treaty of Waitangi on multiple occassions and left the Muaupoko iwi virtually landless…”(Waitangi Tribunal Hearing 2015)

The lake’s guardian, Phil Taueki,  Muaupoko, explains:

“We agreed to share it with the public but there are certain rules we ask them to respect to protect the lake … we have to hold those who are accountable for allowing our most prized taonga to be turned into the town’s toilet … “

The following video explains the lake’s history and the fight by its owners for decades to keep it clean. See also the Listener’s article here.

Lack of Respect for Sacred Sites & Blatant Disregard for the Resource Management Act 1991

Local Maori in Shannon, Ngati Whakatere, have recently protested (late 2015) about the Council’s lack of respect for sacred Maori sites with regard to their excavations. (See video BELOW). The Resource Management Act 1991 clearly requires consultation with local Iwi around any intentions to excavate, however the Council simply is not listening.

In the first video about Lake Horowhenua (at 6 minutes),  Mayor Duffy (interviewed by Karley Hemopo of Marae TV) clearly displays his blatant disrespect both for Maori values and for the Resource Management Act which the HDC (that he represents) is legally required to observe and adhere to. He states when asked what the objections by Maori regarding excavation by the Council were (in the case of the Queen Street storm drain) he states:

“Oh God knows … it’ll be around … it’s a burial site or … a burial site? … I don’t think so…”
Mayor Duffy

The Resource Management Act, dating from 1991, lists “matters of national importance” that are to be protected in any decision:

Matters of national importance (The Resource Management Act 1991)

“In achieving the purpose of this Act, all persons exercising functions and powers under it, in relation to managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources, shall recognise and provide for the following matters of national importance: …..

(e) the relationship of Maori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, waahi tapu, and other taonga:

(f) the protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development:

(g) the protection of protected customary rights…”   (SOURCE: RMA)

Soon after Mayor Duffy’s statement in the video  (at 6.23 minutes) an interview with a land owner and lake trustee Vivienne Taueki reveals she approached HDC about their own objections even before construction began in 2004 yet Council states they have no record of such objections.


The Ongoing Lip Service Councils Pay to ‘Preserving & Enhancing Natural and Cultural Resources’ and ‘Sustainable Development’

For a few years now we’ve been hearing that term ‘sustainable development’. It’s often accompanied by the term ‘smart’, implying clever and is  related to goal setting and achievement. You can read the full definition of these two terms here  however below is a small quote:

Smart growth values long-range, regional considerations of sustainability over a short-term focus. Its sustainable development goals are to achieve a unique sense of community and place; expand the range of transportation, employment, and housing choices; equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development; preserve and enhance natural and cultural resources; and promote public health. SOURCE

You will see these terms displayed on our Regional and District Council websites, and on our Horizons websites, those authorities that are entrusted with the care of our environment. The Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) for instance  “will not only protect and conserve our valuable hill country soil resources, but also address water quality issues and improve downstream flood protection.” 

So, with the rhetoric that exists in all of these policy statements relating to the oft quoted Long Term plans, we should have very clean water at least. Yes?

But no. NZ wide we have waterways that are unsafe to swim in any more. The Manawatu River has earned the dubious ‘honour’ of being the most polluted river in the Southern Hemisphere. See here and here, short video clips about the pollution of that river by a HDC Cr Michael Feyen. Clearly the Horowhenua waterways are no exception.

So, ironically, the authorities mandated with protecting our natural environment and resources seem to be failing miserably in their ‘performance objectives’ (you know, ‘sustainable, smart’ and all of that?) Here in the Rangitikei we have the same issue going on with the pollution of our own Tutaenui Stream where our District Council (RDC) has a long legacy of non compliance with consents and no in-stream biota survey (assessing the aquatic life of the stream) for over a decade, a report that’s required three yearly. (I asked our Mayor Andy Watson twelve months ago when there would next be one … he advised me to email the Council on that … no reply yet). And the fudging of the amounts of leachate dumped into our WWTP (waste water treatment plant) by a very considerable amount (like up to 12 tanker loads per day not the stated 2-3 per 1-2 days). These authorities appear to act more favourably towards corporate interests than those of the people who elected them.

The Alleged ‘Unhealthy Relationship’ that Exists between HDC and Police

Consider also the unhealthy relationship cited by Phil Taueki  that’s alleged to exist between the HDC’s Mayor and the Police. In the Lake Horowhenua video above, Mr Taueki, when arrested (see at 1.07 minutes) for trying to enforce protection of the lake, was refused permission by Police to lock up his premises, and returned the next day to find his property and car trashed. Where is the due process of the law and justice in these matters when Mr Taueki attempts to highlight matters of pollution? Additionally, Mr Taueki says that 75% of the charges against him over the past two years in this respect have been dropped before they ever got to Court.

To offer you food for thought on all of that, consider this;  your local District Councils are registered on Dun and Bradstreet’s website as companies. (Check this out for yourself). A company is:

“… any formal business entity for profit which may be a corporation, a partnership, association or individual proprietorship…” SOURCE

So we need to be asking ourselves, to whom do our Councils (that are really companies) owe their allegiance? To you the ratepayer/citizen? Or to corporate/company interests, given they exist ‘for profit’? 

On a final note, these courageous Councillors who have put their heads above the parapet and spoken truth deserve our thanks. Do consider emailing them in that regard, or leave a comment here.  And the same goes for the local residents, in particular Mr Andrews,  who have also stood up and been counted.

EnvirowatchRangitikei

 

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RELATED:
“Toe the line and deny any pollution by the HDC” was the clear message given by Mayor Brendan Duffy to Horowhenua District Councillors – a former HD Councillor speaks out

Horowhenua District Council’s pollution whistleblower has been served a trespass warrant – so what’s to hide?

“HDC is a top drawer polluter” says another Horowhenua District Councillor who filmed similar pollution to Shannon’s 14 months ago – he says HDC’s recent take was “misleading & full of half-truths”

“The whole thrust of one workshop was aimed at undermining the credibility of WECA members” … More revelations from a former Councillor on Horowhenua DC’s “long-standing & insidious” tactics

 

 

 

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Marton Residents Report Wind from the Bonny Glen Landfill Direction 6-7 km Away Smells ‘Obnoxious … like sewage’

I was contacted this week by residents who live in town reporting a foul, sewage-like smell blowing from the direction of the Bonny Glen landfill situated some  6-7 km away. This is in addition to the smell of passing trucks which, as previously reported, drop bits of refuse on the roads. Two of those people who gave feedback on the truck situation had this to say:

  • truck numbers are static but there are bigger and heavier truck and trailer units
  •  3 went past within 5 minutes this morning at 7.10am, empty, and making a really loud crash sound as they hit the bumps and manhole covers outside our house, shaking the house
  • The tankers taking leachate to the wastewater treatment start about 7-7.30am and continue until approx. 4pm, making about 7-8 round trips per day (also report 12 pday). However since this report of last year, these days the leachate tanker is seldom seen (so have they changed routes?)
  • How that is affecting the plant is unknown, but I understand that RDC are to spend upwards of $1million to upgrade to cope with this leachate, a good example of the ratepayers subsidising a corporation? (Yes indeed)
  • Doors and windows are warped and sticking due it’s believed, to the continual earthquake-like house shaking that goes on with the passing trucks
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Some Marton residents hear up to 3 trucks in the space of 5 minutes drive past, shaking their homes like an earthquake

Comment:

Is the leachate tanker now taking a different route given it’s not seen any more? At late last year’s reporting by community members the leachate tanker count was 12 sometimes 13 trips on average per day. This is a considerably higher than the mere 2 to 3 figure bandied around last year and signals cause for concern at the volume being dumped in the WWTP, given the plant was not coping with 2-3 loads.

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Leachate is dumped into Marton’s WWTP in unknown quantities under a ‘gentleman’s agreement’, regularly exceeding consent levels

Readers may recall the submission made to the consent hearings last year (2015) by a (then) local man, Hamish Allan, on the issue of leachate and the Tutaenui Stream’s pollution. At the time he was a member of the Marton Community Committee (MCC – a conduit for action between the public and Council) and he said that:

“…a member of the public came to us because they were concerned about ‘Enviro Waste’ trucks disposing of industrial waste from Bonny Glen down a manhole in ‘the junction’. “

Mr Allan outlines the difficult process he experienced in getting any action on this issue. He said that: “…by bringing up the issue of the leachate in our recommendations we were genuinely endeavouring to be an effective liason with the community so…

What could be a relatively simple & democratic process – providing straight-forward answers to straight-forward questions – became an opportunity for Council to tell us off about small-scale procedural matters, with only one councillor voting against the motion, to her eternal credit.

What’s more, the minutes of the Community Committee meeting in February 2012 detail Council’s deliberate attempt at avoiding any direct response to the issue of the leachate…”

… they simply refused to accept the recommendation of the MCC! You can read the submission yourself here. You will find there also,  full details of the ongoing and shocking non compliance issue regarding the pollution of the Tutaenui Stream.

In conclusion, the MCC appears to be giving merely the illusion of a democratic process.

Clearly from Mr Allan’s report of 2011 and 12 events, that avenue for addressing pertinent issues didn’t work. I attended one of the MCC meetings last year to ask when an in-stream biota survey would be conducted to assess the aquatic life of the stream. They should be made three yearly according to the consent, however in Mr Allan’s submission he points out that there hadn’t been one since 2002. At the meeting I attended the Mayor Andy Watson was present and spoke to my question. There was no date given for a survey nor any indication there would even be one. In answer to my query, what action should I take as a member of the public or words to that effect, I was advised to email the Council (ie the Mayor and Councilors). I did that subsequently and have heard NOTHING since.

Clearly also, the democratic processes within your democratically elected council are not working in favour of you the public who incidentally are funding the whole machine with your rates.  Whom it does appear to be working for are the Bonny Glen Landfill owners, Midwest Disposals. 

To read more on historic feedback on the vagaries of the landfill go here.
For the history of the landfill and the quintupling (almost) of its original size go here.

EnvirowatchRangitikei

A Rangitikei observer reports seven to twelve truckloads of leachate per day for the WWTP

The Marton Waste Water Treatment Plant is up for a multi million dollar upgrade as reported recently in the Wanganui Chronicle. It was noted in the article (and locals of course know this) that “…a contributor to the current plant’s failure was leachate (landfill run-off), which was trucked to the treatment plant from Bonny Glen landfill..” 

According to RDC’s own report of December 2014 “Marton’s WWTP is configured as a domestic/municipal wastewater treatment based upon pond technology. It is not well suited to provide high levels of treatment to significant industrial trade wastes of a complex nature”. 

The Chronicle’s article goes on to say that … “The landfill’s owners are now working on pre-treating the leachate and the council’s utility assets manager Joanna Saywell suggested Midwest may be able to fully treat the leachate within a few years.”

The operative words here are “working on”, “may be able to” and “a few years”. This non specificity will allow all parties concerned to drag their feet for quite possibly another decade or so  given the wheels of bureaucracy turn very slowly. Note they have dragged their feet for one decade already whilst polluting the Tutaenui stream to who knows what extent … as  deputy Mayor “Mr McManaway said it was a worry that records of what was being put through the system [that he serves] had not been maintained.” (Wanganui Chronicle 20/12/14). In fact, with 10 of the required 36 reports over nine years either missing or non-existent, and a decade of largely non-compliance, going by the water testing that did occur,  we can fairly safely conclude it’s in a bad state. And the in-stream biota surveys? There’s been none since 2002 … the consent requires one every three years so four are missing. (These surveys tell us the state of the stream’s aquatic life, if any). My two queries in March to RDC asking if there’d be another one hasn’t garnered a response yet.

In December 2014, pre-consent stage, the official reporting of leachate-truck activity was one load every two days:

“Leachate is put into the waste water system about every second day under a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the council and Bonny Glen operators Midwest Disposals Ltd… Some days leachate can contribute almost 70 per cent of the ammoniacal nitrogen levels which regularly exceed consented levels..”  Wanganui Chronicle 20/12/14

A person on the truck route commented on the article however that they were seeing the leachate truck go past at least three times a day. A conservative estimate then would make that one round trip a day at least.

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Waste water treatment in Marton

Fast forward eight months. The consents are granted to quintuple the landfill size (not quadruple as previously broadcast) with a now increased volume of leachate due to the extended capacity of the landfill. It’s been observed by a local who lives on the truck route, that the leachate tanker is making seven round trips a day on average, and often there are two tankers working bringing that up to twelve round trips a day, six days per week.  So we have progressed from an estimated six truckloads per week to a conservative forty two to seventy two per week. That is quite some increase.

We are certainly going to be needing that multi million dollar upgrade and let’s keep our fingers crossed that Midwest “may be able” to treat the leachate themselves “within a few years” as they’re saying. As Nigel Belsham’s quoted in the article, “… if it was trade waste causing problems to the plant and not domestic waste, the bill should be picked up by industry.” 

But then we do have a gentleman’s agreement that it appears, at all costs must be kept. Hopefully RDC will see their way clear to getting an in-stream biota survey soon so we can know how trashed the Tutaenui really is.

If you haven’t surely already deduced this, RDC, like councils everywhere these days, has been placing corporate interests above the interests of both the environment and the people who elect them. These same councils espouse ‘sustainability’ – the new ‘buzz’ word – while in reality their practices are everything but sustainable.

EnvirowatchRangitikei

Marton’s Waste Water plant to get an upgrade

An article by Zaryd Wilson from the Wanganui Chronicle on the waste water treatment plant that has featured greatly throughout the whole recent process of the consent hearings. The matter being the company Midwest Disposal’s disposal of leachate from its Bonny Glen landfill into the plant. Amounts dumped have exceeded consents and been the subject of a long standing status of non-compliance. You can read about that process on the Bonny Glen page.

(The Bonny Glen landfill was sold to Midwest by the Rangitikei District Council around a decade ago and a leachate-dumping agreement was informally put in place – a gentleman’s agreement – that has been far from satisfactory going by the non-compliance history).

A local has contacted the site recently reporting that there are 7-12 round trips on average per day by the leachate tanker. Sometimes two are operating.

“A multi-million dollar upgrade to Marton’s wastewater treatment plant has been endorsed by councillors.

The plan, which includes a second anaerobic pond, new storage tanks and community involvement in the process, was discussed by Rangitikei District Council’s assets and infrastructure committee last week.

A contributor to the current plant’s failure was leachate (landfill run-off), which was trucked to the treatment plant from Bonny Glen landfill… 

Councillor Nigel Belsham said if it was trade waste causing problems to the plant and not domestic waste, the bill should be picked up by industry.

“I don’t believe that ratepayers in this area should be paying to allow trade waste to be dumped into this plant,” he said. “Opus [consultants] have said that we’ve got a plant that can handle what it was designed to handle.”

Read the article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/wanganui-chronicle/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503426&objectid=11498302


Further Links:

For info on Bonny Glen: https://envirowatchrangitikei.wordpress.com/bonny-glen/

Leachate history & non compliance reports: https://envirowatchrangitikei.wordpress.com/bonny-glen-submissions-hearings/

Local Feedback: https://envirowatchrangitikei.wordpress.com/bonny-glen/local-feedback/

Council to discuss upgrade of waste water treatment plant

This is from the Wanganui Chronicle and updates us on where RDC is up to with their plans to solve the significantly long standing status of non-compliance with regard to the leachate pollution of the Tutaenui Stream. (To read the full history of this and the non compliance reports see former Martonian Hamish Allan’s submission to the consent hearings earlier this year. There should be an in stream biota survey every three years and it appears there have only been two). More on this later.

Recently a local resident who lives on the truck route informed me he sees 12 round trips per day of the leachate tanker. This is a significantly larger volume than the number that has been cited to the public. 

An upgrade is good news will not be before its time.

Here is the Chronicle article:

“A multi-million-dollar, three-year upgrade of the Marton wastewater treatment plant has been proposed.

Rangitikei district councillors will this morning discuss changes aimed at making the plant compliant with its resource consent.

The MWTP has been non-compliant for at least a decade, partly due to its acceptance of leachate (run-off) from the nearby Bonny Glen landfill. The latest compliance report found the plant’s discharge into the Tutaenui Stream “significantly non-compliant”. At times, ammoniacal nitrogen levels have been 35 times the recommended limit and deemed to adversely affect aquatic life…”

Read More:  http://www.nzherald.co.nz/wanganui-chronicle/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503426&objectid=11496417 

Are councils in bed with Agrichemical companies? They cite grossly inaccurate figures in their defense

Are councils in bed with Agrichemical companies? Both the Auckland & Rangitikei District Council are favouring chemical weed control over non-chemical, in spite of the heightened health risks highlighted recently by WHO. They cite outdated & incorrect data to support this preference. 

Some Aucklanders are currently objecting to a flip flop on their Council’s current weed management policies. A petition has been circulating (and is on FB also  if you would like to sign it) calling (like the Rangitikei) for a ban on the use of glyphosate on Auckland’s streets and parks. Some parts of Auckland are chemical free in terms of weed management however not all, and council is doing a u turn on their current policy of minimal chemical use, indicating in their Ten Year Plan a preference for chemical control.

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Public areas are sprayed without any warning before, during or after the fact

Auckland’s Weed Management Advisory (a Community-led organization that helped create the Council’s Weed Management Policy 2013 of minimum agrichemical use, which the Council seems intent on doing away with) are also calling for a BAN on Glyphosate and have put a leaked briefing document up on their website. You can read it here. This is the Long Term Plan featuring quotes for alternative methods of weed management as opposed to management with glyphosate, typically, Roundup. Georgina Blackmore, the petition organizer, states that the figures cited should be taken with a pinch of salt … in fact a very large amount of salt. They are using she says, old, inaccurate and misleading information. “Disingenuous” says Auckland councilor John Watson. The Weed Management Advisory has accused the Auckland Council of putting the public at risk. Read their press statement here.

This line is a very familiar tale. Our own Rangitikei District Council cited inaccurate figures when justifying their rejection of glyphosate-free weed management in our public spaces. We had tried to counter this outcome by citing Auckland contractors who are currently employing mechanical weed control methods. The latter stated emphatically that their costs were a marginal 10-15 percent more than Roundup, and expected soon to even match it. Similarly, with the current Auckland scenario cited here, other Auckland contractors are saying their costs are even less than glyphosate.

When the request for tighter parameters and controls around glyphosate spraying was originally put to the RDC, citing the extensive independent research available on the myriad health risks associated with Roundup use,  an internal report was requested by RDC on alternative cost-effective weed-control methods.  Councilor Lyn Sheridan asked why health effects were not investigated by RDC and the response by CEO Ross McNeill was, ‘…they weren’t asked for’. They are missing the point here.

We need to be asking, why are Councils so bent on, so adamant, about choosing chemical control, and with a chemical that has recently been re-classified by WHO as a Class 2A carcinogen?  Claiming there is insufficient proof of health risks is myopic at best.

Currently, as of 2011, one in three New Zealanders will contract cancer

That statistic is extremely high and surely deserving of closer examination of the research into environmental causes and the elimination of the probable ones?

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Walkways and adjacent herbage where both school children & general public regularly walk is sprayed heavily with Roundup/glyphosate

The thing about Roundup is (and you will hear this in the audio link below) we the public are given no warning in advance of spraying, no signs are put out when they are spraying (so people can walk on it before it’s dry without even knowing) it is sprayed on public walkways where school children walk with no prior warning and it is sometimes sprayed on windy days.

Read Georgina’s piece here on her recent findings and her interview on Radio with Auckland Councilor John Watson and Professor Ian Shaw from Canterbury University.

Link to the audio HERE

Read the Scoop’s press release on Weed Management Advisory’s findings here:

Auckland Council Accused of Putting Public at Risk

Auckland Council Accused of Putting Public at Risk

“A complete ban on the spraying of glyphosate, also known as Roundup, on all public land in Auckland is called for after a New Zealand toxicologist confirms heightened risks of the chemical. Leaked documents show Auckland Council trivialising the serious health risk…..”  http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1507/S00578/auckland-council-accused-of-putting-public-at-risk.htm

Auckland Council Budget Committee’s paper on weed management citing false figures for non chemical control:  https://weedmanagementadvisory.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/briefing-note-auckland-council-weed-managment-april-2015.pdf 

Article from Georgina Blackmore (Ban Glyphosate in Auckland NOW at Facebook)

“In an interview I gave on bFM this week about our campaign to ban the use of Glyphosate on Auckland Roads and Parks, Councillor John Watson and expert of Toxicology Professor Ian Shaw both agreed that we need to be seriously looking at what alternatives we have to spraying Glyphosate…” Read at SOURCE:  https://www.facebook.com/BanGlyphosate/posts/417049618496545

Damning feedback on Bonny Glen landfill; traffic, noise, smell, and the leachate is far in excess of company claims

I was contacted today with further feedback on the trucking situation in Marton and the Bonny Glen Landfill owned and operated by Midwest Disposals, sold to them a decade or so back by the Rangitikei District Council. There have been ongoing local concerns with their gentleman’s agreement to dump their leachate into Marton’s Waste Water Treatment Plant (read a submission made by then local man Hamish Allan), with a trail of non-consents that Horizons have failed to enforce adequately, if at all. With the landfill now set to quintuple in size following the granting of consents to extend, trucks will almost double in number in spite of claims last year that they would not increase at all. A member of the public has expressed an extensive list of concerns regarding noise, smell, volume of traffic and the leachate problem. I have quoted and slightly condensed these:

  • “I am appalled at the number of rubbish trucks passing our house 6 days per week, and the noise and vibration they make
  • In addition,  the number of tankers taking leachate to the Marton Wastewater Treatment Plant is far in excess of claims made by Mid-west Disposals. The number of trips per day is 7 at least, and some days when 2  tankers are used, a total of at least 12 loads are dumped in the Marton treatment plant
  • I fear that this amount of leachate will cause major problems and poisoning of the rivers that receive outflow
  • I fear it  will become a cost to the ratepayers of Marton while the company responsible gets away with not paying for the damage
  • I believe Horizons should be checking and stopping this pollution
  • This landfill must be opposed and shut down as it is a major pollutant of our region
  • we can smell the tip at times when the wind blows from that direction,  6-7 kms away.

No clean and green Rangitikei, just dirty smelly and polluted. It is a  disgrace.”

Please contact the site if you have any similar concerns regarding this landfill and how it is affecting you. And or contact the RDC and let them know. 

~ Envirowatchrangitikei ~

Anzac, General Freyberg and the Once Pristine Lake Horowhenua (Part 2)

The iconic ANZAC poppy

Returning here to the story of the pollution of our supposedly ‘clean green’ waterways,  the centennial commemoration of the landing at Gallipoli, and Muaupoko’s once pristine lake that Lord General Freyberg trained in. Freyberg is known to younger New Zealanders as a General who served in WWII. He earned his VC (Victoria Cross) however in WW1 as an expert swimmer. My father was his driver for four years during WW2. To read Part 1 go HERE. 

Lake Horowhenua (continued)
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Groups boating on Lake Horowhenua 1908 (Photo courtesy of Horowhenua Historical Society Inc.)

In the case of the Muaupoko people, their lake that historically they’d generously shared with the locals for recreation, was also a sacred site, being the resting place for many of their ancestors. The Councils of the day that agreed to its pollution would have known that the owners also relied on it for their food and income. They’d had to wade out amidst human feces and toilet paper to their eel weirs (traps or nets). Other food sources within the lake would also become so inedible, many of  the people eventually moved away. The fouling of food sources like this is tantamount to emptying a septic tank straight onto your neighbour’s vegetable garden. Not ending there however, the lake’s pollution has continued unabated and is now one of the most polluted in the country. Even today apparently, sewage is released whenever a nearby pumping station is overloaded, and it’s been said from testing of the water that a small glass-full has the potential to kill an animal or even a small child.

The Rangitikei District Council logo, tweaked for truth

The cited $2.886 million to clean up the sheer negligence of previous generations has become it appears, the new norm. Horizons Regional Council is tasked with ‘maintaining and enhancing our Region’s land, water, air, coast and habitat protection.’ The operative and strategic word here is ‘enhancing’. A fairly all- encompassing term that doesn’t tie the Council to too much in the way of specifics. This practice is borne out in other regions as well. When I began to research the cleanliness of our waterways in this ‘clean green’ land … I began to notice that although there is a standard of acceptance set, it’s not always strictly enforced as was evident in the case of the discharge of leachate into our Rangitikei waterways for nine years. In spite of efforts in 2011 by local residents to bring this into the light of day via the Community Committee, council ignored their cries and the pollution still continues. (Documented on this site). In recent discussions with our Mayor Andy Watson about this pollution, he put it into ‘perspective’ by citing the fact that it is not out of the ordinary and other Rangitikei treatment plants are also non compliant. A bit like our kids do when they argue ‘everybody else is doing it’.  We have here an informal agreement that financially benefits the offshore corporation, Midwest Disposals,  while severely polluting our waterways … with promises for clean up that never quite materialize. Councils are well versed in rhetoric like, ‘it will take time’, ‘it could take months’ and more recently, in the case of the Rangitikei, ‘we’re chipping away at it’ … dragging the chain as it were, to forestall any definite action.

Add to this Lake Horowhenua’s damning history and the fact that the nearby Manawatu River is one of the most polluted in the Southern Hemisphere … plus the numerous other tales of pollution NZ-wide, and you will see a familiar pattern emerging. We are touted in the international advertising spin as being ‘clean and green’, yet in the cold light of day our environment is being severely trashed. Ironically the rhetoric on the associated council and environmental websites all point to the need for sustainable practices (UN Agenda 21 plan) and yet the powers that be fail to live up to them. Double speak and hypocrisy at it’s worst. The mentality our governing authorities have that we can simply pay all this damage forward to future generations, whilst corporate business interests continue to profit and/or save money now will not only be the death of our planet but the death of us as well. As it’s been said by an astute observer, ‘there can be no economy on a dead planet’.

ANZAC Service at Lake Horowhenua
ANZAC Service at Lake Horowhenua, Levin

The ANZAC Service

Returning to the ANZAC Day service, it turned out to be one of the nicest ANZAC services we’d ever attended. The people there were warmly welcoming and so interested in our piece of history that they invited us to share. We accepted of course and were touched that this trio of old soldiers who have now passed on, were honoured with a waiata (a song).  We felt right at home and were welcomed afterwards to a beautiful spread of kai and a cuppa, with lovingly prepared, locally cooked eel, sandwiches and cream sponges to name a few items on the menu. I’m sure the General himself would have been suitably impressed, and I know my dear Dad would’ve been proud as. Over our cuppa, we also learned something of the history of the lake, its owners who had welcomed us, and their long and ongoing struggle with local council to not only retain it, but to keep it clean, an all too familiar David and Goliath tale in our histories. My father himself had shares in Whanganui tribal lands that he never understood. Confiscated I believe by Te Kooti Tango Whenua (the Land Taking Court).

My father, James Alfred D'Arcy Vernon 1922-2007
My father, James Alfred D’Arcy Vernon 1922-2007

Before closing, a word on war. Although we honour our forbears every ANZAC, we need to remember that these loved ones who truly did sacrifice their lives, were pawns in a much larger scheme of events. My father, who went off to WW II with his four brothers at the tender age of 17, said in his latter years that wars would never end because ‘wars make money’. Great Britain, and the royal family both deal in the arms trade and the Queen is the current owner of one sixth of the planet. (Note well, her royal predecessors did not acquire it by entirely peaceful negotiations). She has our nation registered on the SEC website as her corporation … we are a registered company which explains the absence of true care for our environment. Corporations are, above all,  about profits.

So, as always, we need to follow the familiar money trail. Those who read beyond the official histories (who know that ‘Maori Wars’ and ‘Indian Wars’ were actually ‘Land Wars’) will also be aware of the role of the Rothschild family in fomenting and profiteering from wars for hundreds of years, boasting even of funding both sides. The death toll from WWII was over 50 million lives.

“I care not what puppet is placed upon the throne of England to rule the Empire on which the sun never sets. The man who controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire, and I control the British money supply”…Nathan Mayer Rothschild

Our loved ones were simply pawns.

“If my sons did not want wars, there would be none”… Mrs Rothschild

Nevertheless we honour the fact that our loved ones went honourably and served their beloved countries and peoples. These other people, the profiteers, have blood on their hands that one day, I believe, they will  have to answer for. Dad 2

~ EnvirowatchRangitikei ~

Anzac, General Freyberg and the Once Pristine Lake Horowhenua (Pt 1)

The iconic ANZAC poppy

Here is a story of pollution at its worst. ANZAC, unexpectedly this year (2015) became the avenue of discovery and the event that prompted me to write this post. A note first to non-Kiwis/Aussies, ANZAC stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps … every 25th of April, we commemorate our brave soldiers … our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, who both risked and sacrificed their lives in the two World Wars.

Freyberg in his youth at Oriental Bay, Wellington (NZ)
A young Freyberg at Oriental Bay in Wellington NZ

I hadn’t intended going to an ANZAC service and haven’t done since my father passed away in 2007. It brings back my deep sadness at losing him. An ad however, in the Horowhenua Chronicle, was brought to my attention by a family member about a special service to be held at Lake Horowhenua, Levin, honouring Lord General Freyberg for the centenary of  the Gallipoli landing.  My father had been his driver for four years during WWII, and Lake Horowhenua was one of the venues Freyberg had trained at in NZ as a young swimmer.  His swimming would later earn him the VC (Victoria Cross) in WWI. The Horowhenua Chronicle read:

” Lieutenant General Bernard Freyberg was a dentist in Levin before World War I; by the end of the war he was a decorated hero and recipient of the Victoria Cross. He earned the first of his four Distinguished Service Order medals for a swim he undertook on the morning of the invasion of Gallipoli on April 25, 1915. In darkness, Freyberg had towed to shore a raft of flares to light as decoys before undertaking unarmed and alone a reconnaissance of the large army entrenched nearby.”

This ANZAC service was being organized by Phil Taueki (Muaupoko iwi) one of Lake Horowhenua’s owners and kaitiaki or guardian of the lake.  The original commemorative plans would have seen swimmers crossing the lake however, those plans were dropped. You will see why shortly.

General Freyberg, his batman laurie Keucke and driver (my father) Jim Vernon
General Freyberg (centre) Corporal L. Keucke (left) and L. Sgt. J. Vernon (right)

We had no idea Freyberg had trained in Lake Horowhenua, or even that he had lived so close to our home town, only fifty or so minutes drive away. We decided to go to the service and take along with us the group photo my father treasured of the General, the General’s batman (also my father’s good friend) Laurie Keucke and himself, taken en route from Arrezzo, Rome, when they’d stopped for a ‘brew up’ and refreshments .

Lord General Freyberg

“… although it could be frightening  being on the road and always vulnerable to attack, nevertheless the General was always without fear … ” L. Sgt. James Vernon (Driver)

My father remembered Freyberg as a fearless man who already had 18 wounds at that time. His driver from El Alamein to Monte Cassino to Rimini, he said that although it could be frightening  being on the road and always vulnerable to attack, nevertheless the General was always without fear.

Freyberg apparently had a sense of humour too behind his fearsome exterior and knew the boys called him ‘Tiny’. Because his parents had emigrated from the UK to NZ when he was just a small child,  he would undoubtedly have experienced the Kiwi culture and its characteristic sense of humour growing up. For example, when staff who didn’t like the fact that Kiwi soldiers didn’t always salute them, he’d suggested they try waving instead!

“… they wouldn’t get away with that in the British Army … ” (General Freyberg)

The New Zealand guys always gave him a bit of stick too my father said. Knowing of his swimming expertise, when Freyberg and his men were getting ready to cross the Sangro River during the Italian campaign, someone called out, “Hey Freyberg, you gonna swim across?”. This was met with a tight lipped, “they wouldn’t get away with that in the British Army”, and as always with this kind of comment, a gleam in his eye.

The kind of man the Freyberg was is evident too in his posing for the group photograph. Generals wouldn’t normally be photographed I’ve been told, with that level of staff . After WW II when Freyberg visited Dad’s home town Whanganui, he’d broken rank and hugged my father when he spotted him in the parade … exclaiming how he always remembered the wonderful breakfasts he’d cooked him in the desert.  I always remember him as an excellent cook. After Freyberg’s appointment as Governor General of NZ after the war in 1946 my father and other of Freyberg’s staff I’ve heard, would call on him for a cup of tea at his home in Wellington, and every year, there would always be a Christmas card from Government House.

Lake Horowhenua

Lake Horowhenua, Levin, NZ
Lake Horowhenua, Levin, NZ

Returning to Lake Horowhenua, it turns out that the pristine lake the young dentist had trained in all those decades ago, had since been transformed  from a valuable source of income and kai (food) for Muaupoko … into a literal toilet bowl. Raw sewage had been pumped into it for two decades starting in the 1950s, and although it ceased in the 1980s, the lake has continued to be polluted to this day by effluent from both surrounding dairy farming and from local agricultural activity. The price tag to clean up the pollution and realize the dream of having swimmers cross the lake on the day was estimated by Horizons to be $2.886 million.

This story is all too familiar. Here in the Rangitikei we have our own pollution scenario, where locals have complained that the extension to Bonny Glen landfill to now nearly quintuple its size, will turn our ‘unspoilt’ district into the toilet bowl rather than the ‘grain bowl’ of the lower North Island. ‘Unspoilt’ is the featured word on our official district logo. This is clearly not true.

“Two-thirds of more than 160 monitored river swimming spots in New Zealand have been deemed unsafe for a dip”   NZ Herald  30/1/2015

Read Part 2 of this post with more on the events that transpired that ANZAC Day.

Dad 2

~ EnvirowatchRangitikei ~

The trucks to Bonny Glen … local concern about speed, noise and road damage

This week a local person contacted the site expressing concern with the trucking to Bonny Glen. Here is a summary of those concerns:

  • I am beginning to be more concerned over the number of trucks going along Wanganui Road
  •  Speed is a BIG Issue… speed’s always been an issue but there is more noise and speed than ever before… seems to me that something like a road hump needs to be put in place to slow them down because road signs certainly don’t
  • The noise of the trucks has increased, one hears them bumping over who knows what
  • Trucks are entering Marton, and leaving it in the small hours
  • The state of the road has deteriorated and will get worse I am sure
  • Is there another route that could be used? If it must continue?

Backtrack to mid 2014 and we had reports saying that if consents were granted to quadruple the landfill size the trucks are unlikely to be more numerous on a daily basis … (Feilding Herald Aug 14 2014) now the consents are granted and the landfill is set officially to almost quintuple we are told there WILL be an increase of trucks from an average of 42 to 73 per day (Manawatu Standard 12 June 2015).

Note, I have also reported on the site other expressions of concern over trucking noise and speed. A truck every ten minutes (35 in a morning – modest estimate) and at very early hours. This person reported the entire house shaking when they went by, often dropping refuse along the way, and leaving odour. The person is not alone in their concerns, other neighbours are also fed up with the trucks.

If you’re concerned in any way with the state of affairs concerning truck nuisance, put them in writing to the RDC Mayor and Crs, and/or make them known at the Community Committee meetings that meet every second Wednesday of the month. Details on the RDC website.

Please also consider contacting the site so the information can be registered there as well.

~ EnvirowatchRangitikei ~