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Dome likely dumping ground for New Caledonia waste

Posted at 10:53am Monday 01 Mar, 2021

Michelle Carmichael testifying at the landfill resource consent hearings in December. She says it is astounding that waste from New Caledonia could end up in the Dome Valley.
Michelle Carmichael testifying at the landfill resource consent hearings in December. She says it is astounding that waste from New Caledonia could end up in the Dome Valley. 

Waste Management has confirmed waste from New Caledonia will likely be dumped in the Dome Valley landfill should plans for the controversial facility proceed.

The issue came to light after a reader alerted Mahurangi Matters to the fact that Waste Management holds dozens of permits from the Environmental Protection Authority that allow it to import hazardous waste from New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

The permits allow Waste Management to import numerous chemical and other forms of dangerous waste, including used lead-acid batteries, crushed fluorescent tubes, vapour sodium lamps, oils and oil sludges, alloys of mercury, solvents, and waste pesticides and herbicides, which are off-specification, outdated or unfit for their original intended use.

A Waste Management spokesperson said the company had international contracts for the treatment, and in some cases, disposal of wastes from New Caledonia, because the French territory did not have treatment and disposal facilities constructed to an international standard of its own.

The spokesperson added that New Zealand had an obligation under international treaties to accept and treat waste from Pacific Island countries if they were unable to process it safely themselves.

On arrival in New Zealand, the hazardous waste is sent to Waste Management's technical services division, located at Neales Road in East Tamaki, for treatment.

Once treated, the waste is currently dumped at Waste Management's Redvale Landfill & Energy Park, which the Dome Valley landfill is designed to replace. It is expected the Redvale landfill will stop receiving waste in 2028.  

Asked if it was likely that once the Redvale landfill is retired from service, the treated waste will end up in the Dome Valley, the spokesperson responded: “Yes, but not necessarily. Once treated it could be disposed of in any Class 1 landfill in New Zealand.”

A Class 1 landfill will accept some industrial waste and contaminated soils, along with residential and commercial waste, but will not accept hazardous waste.  

Waste Management refused to divulge how much treated waste from New Caledonia it disposed of at Redvale.

“This information is commercially sensitive and confidential,” the spokesperson said.     

The spokesperson did say that regardless of source, treated waste must be sampled and tested to demonstrate that it complied with the landfill's acceptance criteria.

“Should the Auckland Regional Landfill (Dome Valley landfill) go ahead, it will have strict waste acceptance criteria as a condition of its resource consent,” the spokesperson said.

But Fight the Tip, Save the Dome campaigner Michelle Carmichael said it was “astounding” that Waste Management would likely be importing waste from New Caledonia to its proposed Auckland Regional landfill.

“It makes you wonder where else waste will be coming from to dump in this local landfill,” she said.

Ms Carmichael said Waste Management's main consultation booklet to the community in connection with the landfill was titled, “Meeting Auckland's future needs”.

“A more apt title may have been, ‘Meeting Waste Management's future needs',” she said.

 The prospect of a landfill in the Dome Valley has prompted widespread opposition in Mahurangi, including numerous demonstrations, the placement of a rahui on the proposed landfill site and a protest march down Queen Street in central Auckland.

Several weeks of hearings to consider a resource consent application by Waste Management to construct the landfill concluded at the end of January.   

Commissioners who presided over the hearings are currently considering the evidence with a view to making a decision on the consent application. Their decision is expected in the first half of this year.

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