Monday, May 18, 2020

Failing to protect the environment, again

From its name, you would think the Environmental protection Authority was there to protect the environment. But we've had another reminder that nothing could be further from the truth, with its decision to allow a toxic, burned-out Korean fishing boat to be dumped at sea:

The ship's owner, Dong Won NZ (DWNZ), applied for a non-notified consent to dump the trawler 25 nautical miles south-east of Otago Harbour.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) granted that precedent-setting request, on April 30.

Several agencies were approached by the EPA before the decision, including a letter from Environment Canterbury chair Bill Bayfield.

In that letter, obtained by Stuff, he wrote that while ECan had no statutory means to influence the EPA's decision, ''we feel duty bound to bring this to your attention''.

''It is our concern that the disposal of the vessel is being driven more by convenience and cost, than delivering preferred environmental outcomes,'' he wrote.

Ships have been deliberately sunk in New Zealand waters before - the HMNZS Wellington springs to mind - but they've been carefully stripped beforehand. And the reason for that is that ships are toxic waste, full of asbestos, heavy metals, oil, and PCBs. Dumping toxic waste is explicitly forbidden under the EEZ Act, and by the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter it purports to implement. But the EPA has decided to go ahead and allow it anyway, because it is cheaper for this toxic ship's foreign owners to pollute our waters than clean up their mess properly. Which is a disgusting abrogation of responsibility.

This foreign company should be required to take full responsibility for the toxic waste they have left in New Zealand. And if they don't want to pay for it, the New Zealand government should pursue them through the courts until they do. It is that simple.