17 years late, the new landfarming guidelines are a sham

The National Government’s voluntary guidelines for spreading toxic oil and gas waste on farmland ignore the concerns of New Zealand’s environmental watchdog about the dangers of heavy metal contamination, and could lead to greater risks to people and animals, the Green Party says.

“MPI’s guidelines for spreading of oil and gas waste on farmland ignore concerns of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment about the danger of contamination by heavy metals, for example, barium and cadmium, and the need for soil and water to be regularly tested for these persistent contaminants,” said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“The guidelines are woefully inadequate because they fail to protect animals or humans from toxic heavy metals, and are less stringent than existing laws.

“The landfarming guidelines are yet another fake solution by the National Government, looking to appear to be doing something while in fact, they’re ignoring the problem and potentially making it worse.

“The guidelines suggest that a farmer can graze stock on land that’s previously been used as a toxic petroleum waste dump, with no requirement that the soil, or the milk that the cows produce, be tested for contamination by persistent heavy metal contaminants.

“Furthermore, MPI’s guidelines undermine existing rules by failing to mention that it is mandatory to get council approval when converting a petroleum waste dump site into one used for growing crops or grazing cattle.

“In May 2015, Taranaki district councils agreed that, in order to comply with existing land use laws, they’d apply what’s been called a “lock the gate policy” that prevents the grazing of stock on land until the district council agreed to a change of use.

“It’s outrageous that the Government has released weak voluntary guidelines that undermine more stringent mandatory rules meant to protect human health,” said Mr Hughes.

 

References:

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s concerns about heavy metals and landfarming: p.63-66, http://www.pce.parliament.nz/assets/Uploads/Fracking-Report-web-May2015.pdf

Information on the existing “lock the gate” policy for landfarms: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/agribusiness/68666552/district-c...

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