Did the Ministry for the Environment prevent the Tasman District Council from testing for dioxin in the air coming out of the stack at the Māpua toxic clean-up site; if so, why?
I am advised that the Tasman District Council requested sampling from the Māpua remediation plant. After discussions with the Tasman District Council and the peer review panel of experts, the monitoring of dioxins within the carbon filter was decided on by the ministry. The test results were provided to the peer review panel, which advised that the results provided “very good assurance of a clearly acceptable low level of dioxin formation in the dryer and very low levels of dioxins in the emissions from the carbon filter.”
Is the Minister aware that the plant was operating for more than a year, between May 2005 and September 2006, despite written concerns from the Tasman District Council to the Ministry for the Environment about dioxin emissions, and that during that time his ministry used legal means to block testing for this highly poisonous chemical, even after the district council offered to pay for the tests?
As I think I indicated to the member in the previous reply, there was a different form of testing for dioxins.
What is he or the ministry doing to resolve these matters and move forward?
I understand that the chief executive officer of the Ministry for the Environment is in the process of engaging an independent Australian remediation expert to review the processes used at Māpua. The review will include the ministry’s decision-making systems and the reviewer will be tasked with providing advice on what needs to be done in the future. This should provide assurance around Māpua itself, as well as to ensure wherever possible that the problem is not repeated in future clean-up sites.
Is the Minister aware that after the Ministry for the Environment finally lost its battle to stop the district council testing the carbon filters for dioxin, the day before the first tests were due the company running the clean-up operation, which had a very close relationship with the ministry, took the carbon filters that were to be tested and destroyed them, removing all the evidence?
No, there are no further supplementary questions. [ Interruption] They have one more? There are five today.
Can the Minister confirm that the Tasman District Council was only allowed to test for dioxin in the stack air, as opposed to the carbon filters in the air itself, a year and a half after it raised its concerns, and only after a formal request from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, and that when the test was done the temperature of the plant was turned down to produce less dioxin, and then after the test was done the temperature was turned back up again for normal operations?
I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am just thinking about your little discussion there with Dr Norman where you were looking at the number of supplementary questions that he had available. Am I right in thinking that Dr Norman took one from next week, or he had an extra one today, or something like that?
No, it is the same process that the member has also followed with another member in this House. So there has been an allocation of supplementary questions to Mr Hide, I understand.
Right. Some time ago I recall you saying that members could in fact use a supplementary question on a particular day in lieu of a supplementary question they might use on another day. Is that still your position?
As long as I am notified of that fact, and therefore we know what the numbers are, the members from some of the smaller parties have in fact done that, yes.
In the same week. It cannot be transferred for ever and a day. It has to be done in the same week.
I seek leave to table a letter from the Tasman District Council, dated 15 June 2006, in which it raises concerns about the significant discharges, or the potential for significant discharges of dioxin and seeking the ability to test—
I seek leave to table a letter from the Ministry for the Environment, dated July 2006, in which it denies that attempt to test for those discharges—