Marfell fruit trees may get the chop

20/06/2009

A New Plymouth man is poised to chop down his fruit trees after dioxin was uncovered in the park next door.

Construction engineer, Tony Cooper, who owns a house on Endeavour St at the base of Marfell Park, is calling for a full clean-up of the former city dump and more openness from authorities.

The Taranaki Regional Council revealed last week that drum remnants containing agrichemicals, including dioxin, had been uncovered in May while contractors were digging into the former tip.

The site has since been reinstated by the New Plymouth District Council, including placing a layer of clean clay at least one metre deep.

But Mr Cooper said he was angry with the whole scenario.

“Our ultimate goal should be to dig it out and get rid of it,” Mr Cooper said.

“Who was the clown that decided to dig through a dump anyway?

“I’m hot under the collar about it. Where we live, we are right in the firing line. It’s not just the health of our kids and us, house prices will also be affected. What is this going do to them?” Mr Cooper asked.

He and his wife bought the house 15 years ago when they shifted from Timaru. He is ready to chop down the trees from which they eat fruit because he now believes they would have absorbed toxic run-off from the former tip. Mr Cooper is angry real estate agents never informed them they were buying a house near a former dump site.

Over the years, he developed growing concerns about the area when he found a foul smell on the edge of the park on his fenceline. He phoned the council which installed a sewer to redirect the run-off “because it was going into a nearby stream”.

At the corner of Endeavour and Grenville streets, lechate was constantly coming out of the ground on to the verge despite attempts by the council to control it.

He had found little public information in internet searches about the old dump site, he said.

The paper has also been contacted by John Skelton, who also lived in Endeavour St from 1971 and 1975.

He witnessed dumping of chemical waste all through that time.

“A lot of these dumpings were carried out under cover of darkness with lights of vehicles to work with. We know because we observed them very often,” Mr Skelton said.

Since the discovery of drum remnants in May, the TRC has said the site is no longer a health risk after it removed the drums and 100 cubic metres of surrounding soil. Whatever was buried in the city dump had been legally dumped at the time.

Yesterday, TRC environment director Gary Bedford continued to urge anyone wanting information to contact the council or dioxin campaigner Andrew Gibbs.

20/06/2009 | LYN HUMPHREYS | Daily News | NEWS-2009-M06-20-001 | stuff.co.nz
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