Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Send it back to Australia II

Another unpleasant surprise at Tiwai Point: in addition to the declared stockpiles of toxic waste, they may have tens of thousands of tons secretly buried in the early 1990's to avoid the RMA:

Investigators are looking into claims highly toxic waste has been buried in unmapped sites at Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.


"Former staff of the smelter report burying of spent cell linings [containing cyanide and toxic fluoride] or contaminated material in various parts of the Tiwai site," said the report into "key matters" for cleaning up the huge site next to conservation land once the smelter shuts in 2024.

Waste burial reportedly went on "particularly prior" to the Resource Management Act's enactment in 1991, by which stage tens of thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste had already been produced.

The report followed this with a warning: "It is likely that a number of unmapped or unconsented contaminated sites exist as a result of these uncontrolled activities."

The company claims not to know anything about it. Of course they don't: it was 30 years ago, management doesn't stick around that long, and any documents will no doubt have been shredded or buried. So it sounds like the EPA and the local council will have to go over the site with ground-penetrating radar to find these dumps. Fortunately they have a search power which enables them to do that. As for what happens when they find it, its Rio Tinto's waste, and it is their absolute responsibility to ensure it is disposed of safely. And if they don't want to do that, they can take it back to Australia with them when they fuck off.