Playground contamination shows register needed

10 Jun 2009

The Green Party is calling for a national register of contaminated sites in the wake of the alarming discovery of extremely high levels of dioxin under a children’s playground in Taranaki.

“We are very concerned at the dioxin risks at New Plymouth’s Marfell Park. In the interests of public safety we must take these risks very seriously and act with precaution,” said Green Party Toxics Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty MP.

“Fundamentally, people need to know where these sites are”, said Catherine Delahunty. “Just one millionth of one millionth of a gram of dioxin can cause cancer and many other serious health effects.

“The discovery of 245T drums in the playground highlights both the lack of public information on where our contaminated sites are and the need for precaution.”

Meanwhile, the Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley has called for the park to be closed and for the Council to reopen its investigation into the historical dumping of toxic waste at sites around New Plymouth.

Ms Kedgley said, “Local people have been calling for reinvestigation into historical allegations of the dumping for many years and the discovery of dumped chemical in Marfell Park has vindicated their concerns.”

The Minister for the Environment is hinting at more funding to fix the problem. Ms Delahunty welcomed this news, describing the current annual budget of $1.7 million as ‘woefully inadequate’.

“Local and national government officials’ denial of the social and environmental risks of contamination is not helpful,” said Ms Delahunty.

“While some Regional Councils have done some good work compiling regional lists, we have no national register of contaminated sites. This means that the clean-up funds are not necessarily being spent on the most dangerous sites.”

Ms Delahunty said that the dioxin levels in the 245T drums at Marfell Park were dangerously high and highlight the problem.

She said that the visual monitoring common at some sites does not reveal soil contamination. “A methodical and rigorous programme of soil sampling and an investigation into historical and anecdotal information is needed in many places.”

Environmental groups and dioxin activists have been calling since 1993 for a national register of contaminated sites and a commitment to proper identification and isolation.

“We simply do not know how safe many sites are and, until we do, we must treat them as a potential risk to the public,” Ms Delahunty said. “Communities have a right to know about the sites and the risks.”

10 Jun 2009 | Press Release | Catherine Delahunty MP, Sue Kedgley MP | NEWS-2009-M06-10-003 |


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