Media Release: Continuing breaches and non-compliance in oil and gas operations – symptoms of a flawed system

Waikaikai Farms Ltd drilling waste disposal annual monitoring re“Continuing  incidents and breaches of consent by the oil and gas industry, documented in today’s (18 March 2014) Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) consent and regulatory committee meeting, demonstrate serious failings in the operation, management and legislative approach to this industry”, said Climate Justice Taranaki (CJT).

The six non-compliant incidents involved a chemical spill at Methanex Motunui, an oil spill at Port Taranaki, and non-compliance by Remediation NZ, Greymouth Petroleum (Kowhai-C and Ngatoro-A wellsites) and Todd Taranaki (Mangahewa-D wellsite).

Of these, Remediation NZ’s non-compliance on its Manutahi landfarm last month is of particular concern. The company has breached conditions on the application thickness of waste material and the number of times waste was spread on one area. Notably, this follows three unauthorised incidents in 2012-2013 that resulted in an abatement notice, an infringement notice and a “poor performance” rating by the TRC.  This is the same site where an inspector reported cattle in an area recently spread with drilling waste and not yet tilled or sown.

“Should this landfarm be allowed to continue operation, given such an appalling track record? Can operators be trusted to do the right thing?” asked Catherine Cheung, CJT Researcher.

CJT also has grave concern about the Waikaikai landfarm. In its monitoring report tabled at the meeting, the operation was given a “poor performance” rating by TRC, noting in 2011-2012 “the site was significantly mismanaged”. E.g. waste “material had been stockpiled haphazardly in unlined pits”.

“On one hand, we now finally have TRC handing out ‘poor performance’ ratings to operators, yet also stating that landfarming is a safe practice, while the Ministry of Primary Industry has ignored our call for a stock withholding period, and instead entrusted farmers and operators to manage the risks. On the other hand, we have operators failing to comply with basic conditions, potentially jeopardising food safety, environmental health and NZ’s already shaky agricultural reputation. This risky business of dumping industrial waste on farms must stop now!” said Cheung.

Sources:

http://www.trc.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/CR1803-public.pdf

http://www.trc.govt.nz/assets/Publications/technical-reports/oil-and-gas-compliance-monitoring-reports/1275338w2.pdf   (photo)

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/rural/238124/mpi-leaves-landfarms-risks-to-farmers

Media coverage: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/agribusiness/9848659/Landfarm-pinged-twice-for-consent-breaches  (TDN, 20 March 2014)

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