Fluoride Action Network

Agreement to rehabilitate polluted land

Otago Daily Times | October 5, 2022 | Staff Reporter
Posted on October 5th, 2022
Location: New Zealand

Restoration of land at Tiwai Peninsula is set to begin after an agreement was reached between Murihiku Runaka and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd (NZAS) and Rio Tinto Aluminum Ltd.

A detailed site investigation report commissioned by NZAS revealed last month that a range of contaminants of concern had been found at the site, including hydrocarbons, fluoride, cyanide and asbestos.

The agreement was signed on Friday at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff by representatives from Murihiku Runaka and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu.

All parties agreed to work together on plans to remove waste, conduct environmental monitoring, and remediate the Tiwai Point site, which is a key priority for mana whenua, NZAS and Rio Tinto.

“We’re proud to be working alongside Murihiku Runaka and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu in continuing this important mahi. Their guidance will be invaluable as we progressively remediate the site,” NZAS chief executive Chris Blenkiron said.

“This agreement reinforces the commitments we’ve made to remove waste and remediate the site, irrespective of the smelter’s future,” he said.

Murihiku Runaka are kaitiaki (guardians) over the whenua (land) and moana (sea) in the region.

Te Runaka o Awarua is leading the partnership on behalf of Murihiku Runaka and will actively engage with NZAS and all parties around remediation, cultural considerations, and future intentions.

Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Ivan Vella said NZAS was working hard to secure a longer future for NZAS so that it can continue its support of global decarbonisation, and make sure its environmental performance matches those objectives.

Key findings of last month’s NZAS report included fluoride recorded at 8-16% concentration in surface soil in select areas, surface soil concentrations of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) and fluoride above health risk criteria and ecological screening criteria, groundwater contaminated with “elevated levels” of fluoride, aluminium, arsenic, PAHs and cyanide, and sediment from storm water drains containing “elevated levels” of fluoride, aluminium, PAHs and heavy metals.

*Original full-text article online at: https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/southland/agreement-rehabilitate-polluted-land