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Source: Environmental Protection Authority

What will Ports of Auckland limited be allowed to dump?

To maintain clear water depths within the Port of Auckland to allow visiting vessels to berth safely, Ports of Auckland Ltd undertakes regular maintenance dredging of the berthing basins. Maintenance dredging is also done within the Rangitoto Navigation Channel. The company anticipates the need to carry out (new) capital dredging within the Port area, the Navigation Channel Precinct, and just outside the Precinct. This material then needs to be disposed of. This marine dumping consent allows Ports of Auckland to dump certified sediment dredged from within various Port precincts. Consent conditions for the marine dumping activity include that the applicant must sample sediment before disposal at sea to ensure it is within allowed contaminant levels. Sampling results must be certified by the EPA prior to any sediment being dumped at sea.

How much material can be dumped?

The consent conditions state that the Consent Holder shall not dump:

a) more than 50,00 cubic metres (m3) of dredged material from maintenance dredging, nor more than 400,000 m3 of dredged material from capital dredging, at the CDS (Cuvier Disposal Site)  in any consecutive 12 month period;

b) more than a total volume of 2,000,000 m3 of dredged material from capital dredging at the CDS over the term of this consent.

Why is consent required for an authorised dumping site? 

A marine dumping consent is required for the disposal of waste in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone – regardless of whether the waste is to be disposed of in an authorised location.

Why does POAL need consent if Coastal Resources Limited (CRL) already has a marine consent?

The EPA recently granted a new marine dumping consent to Coastal Resources Limited (CRL) for a site previously approved by Maritime NZ. The CRL marine dumping consent was approved for a number of specific projects. It is currently subject to High Court appeals. As detailed on page 40 of the decision document, Ports of Auckland does not consider that the consent granted to CRL would provide it with any certainty that its dredging material would be able to be dumped at the CRL consented site (the Northern Disposal Area) over the next 10 years. The Ports of Auckland application for a marine dumping consent is to use a dumping site authorised as such by the EEZ Act.

Who granted this application?

The EPA is the consent authority for certain activities that are restricted within New Zealand’s EEZ and in or on the continental shelf. One of the EPA’s functions is to decide applications for a marine consent. The decision-making for non-notified marine dumping consents has been delegated by the Chief Executive of the EPA to the General Manager of the EPA’s Climate, Land and Oceans Group. 

What had to be taken into account by the decision-maker considering this application?

Applications for marine dumping consents must be determined according to the requirements of the EEZ Act. The purpose of the Act is to promote the sustainable management of the natural resources of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf; and protect the environment from pollution by regulating or prohibiting marine dumping.  In making this decision, the EPA had to take into account:

  • effects on the environment and existing interests
  • rare and vulnerable ecosystems and the habitats of threatened species
  • importance of protecting biodiversity, species and ecosystems
  • the effects on human health of the dumping
  • any alternative methods of disposal of the waste
  • whether there are practical opportunities to reuse, recycle or treat the waste

Are there alternatives to dumping the dredged sediment at the Cuvier Disposal Site (CDS)?

The EEZ Act requires the EPA to take into account any alternative methods that could be used for the disposal of the waste, and to consider any other practical opportunities available to reuse, recycle, or treat the waste or other matter. On the evidence available to the EPA, including Ports of Auckland Limited’s assessment of alternatives, it was concluded that there is presently no feasible alternative to marine dumping and no evidence of realistic alternatives to dumping at the Cuvier Disposal Site over the duration of the consent. The Cuvier Disposal Site (CDS), located in the EEZ, was designated as an ammunition dumping site in 1955. The CDS has also been used for the dumping of dredged material during the development of the inner Viaduct Basin for the Americas Cup in the late 1990s.

Why was there no public hearing for this application?

The EEZ Act controls the waste that can be disposed of in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Under the disposal and dumping regulations, certain types of waste intended to be dumped in an authorised location are classified as a non-notified discretionary activity. This is the case in the Ports of Auckland Limited marine dumping consent application. Non-notified discretionary activities are not publicly notified, and there are no submissions or public hearings.

Were iwi told of the application?

The EEZ Act requires the EPA to provide a copy of non-notified applications to specific parties. Letters were sent to 72 parties, which included links to the application, impact assessment, and supporting documents. These parties were made up of:

  • 60 Māori organisations or groups
  • three local authorities
  • three government ministries, departments and crown entities
  • six individuals having existing interests that may be affected by the application

Can anyone appeal the decision?

This non-notified decision can only be appealed by the applicant, on points of law.