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Source: Whangarei District Council

Council has announced that a tender to remove up to one million litres of solvents and hazardous waste from a site at Bream Bay has been let to InterGroup Ltd, and work on the site will begin in the next four to six weeks.

Updated: 13/08/2020 4:11 p.m.

​InterGroup is a specialist waste management company that, through the contract set up by Whangarei District Council (WDC), will evaluate the hazardous waste  on site and repackage the solvents for safe transport to a disposal or recycling facility.

Recycling or disposal will be undertaken at properly licensed facilities in New Zealand and Australia. Contaminated stormwater (bund water) which has accumulated on site is to be removed in bulk container trucks for treatment and disposal at the InterGroup facility in Auckland.

No solvents or waste, other than bund water, will be transported to InterGroup’s Auckland facility.

All substances, including each container, will be tracked to confirm that they are properly managed and are transported to the correct facility and finally disposed of.

This procedure follows WDC’s request earlier this year, for the Environment Court to grant interim and final enforcement orders for the owners and operators of the Allis Bloy Place site to  remove the hazardous waste and, if they failed, for WDC to be given the right to enter the premises and sell or dispose of the materials salvaged in compliance with the court order.  The owners and operators have not completed removal and WDC has assumed the role to remove the waste.

WDC Infrastructure Group Manager Simon Weston said some of the operators had attempted a legal bid to prevent Whangarei District Council from stepping in and cleaning up the facility but had been unsuccessful.

“While commercial sensitivity prevents us from publicly discussing costs, we can say that the clean-up will be a very expensive process. It will be a lengthy and complicated project requiring a very secure site and strict safety procedures.”

Mr Weston said the initial cost of the clean-up would be funded by WDC, Northland Regional Council (NRC), Ministry for the Environment (MfE), Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and WorkSafe.  Efforts would be made to recover costs from the owners and operators.

He said WDC, NRC, MfE and Worksafe tried to get the owners and operators to clean up the site and operate within the conditions of their resource consent for several years, before seeking the court order.

The solvent disposal facility was set up by private operators to receive industrial chemicals for safe disposal or processing. Over the years more product was stored on the site than was allowed under its resource consent. Concerns about illegal discharges from the site resulted in a prosecution by the Northland Regional Council in 2015.

In December 2018 WDC arranged for fire prevention works to be undertaken near the site and in early 2019 NRC and WDC paid for security to monitor the site to ensure public safety. WDC has also provided some assistance with the reduction and removal work by providing intermediate bulk containers for packaging contaminated water for removal. Mr Weston said WDC and NRC funded a security fence around the facility and put up signs warning people about the hazardous substances.

Responsibility for health and safety during the clean-up will lie with the contractor InterGroup Limited and WDC.

MIL OSI