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Sixteen tonnes of water-damaged 1080 dumped in landfill outside Marton

Report from RNZ
Sixteen tonnes of 1080 has been trucked more than halfway up the country and dumped in a landfill just outside the Rangitikei town of Marton.

The 1080 bait was water-damaged during flooding on the West Coast in March and was then taken to the Bonny Glen Landfill.

Anti-1080 groups are worried it could leach into surrounding land, but its disposal complies with regulations set by the Environmental Protection Authority.

When a 1080 storage shed in Haast was swamped during flooding, the rising water damaged 16.2 tonnes of toxic bait and 14 tonnes of pre-feed bait. The damaged pellets were then trucked 1000 kilometres away from the South Island’s West Coast to Marton in the North Island.

Documents from the Environmental Protection Authority said the 1080 pellets were broken down at the landfill, and spread in thin layers, before household rubbish was piled on top, then compacted and topped with soil.

The Outdoors Party, which has called for an immediate stop to all aerial toxin drops, believed that was the problem.

The party’s co-leader, David Haynes, said it was a woefully inadequate way to dispose of toxic waste.

“My main concern is to take a toxin and burying it in a municipal landsite where farms are raising food, possibly near some sources of water, so there is a possible risk of leaching, and also at the depth it’s buried at you can almost guarantee that there will be little, if any bio-degradation,” said Mr Haynes.

Richard Bowman, a former biosecurity manager with Southland Regional Council, was part of a monitoring study in 1996 after 12 tonnes of 1080 bait was put in a landfill in Winton.

He said the council studied the environmental effects for 14 months and found it didn’t appear to pose any significant risk to public safety or the environment, providing the site was not disturbed and natural breakdown processes were able to continue.

“In those particular conditions, which was quite damp and full of all sorts of organic material, the 1080 in the cereal bait broke down relatively quickly to the point where I think that after a year, or a year and a half there was no detectable 1080 in the immediate vicinity of the disposal site and we understood the actual material that had been disposed of had degraded to the point where it was quite neutral,” he said.

However, Mr Bowman said 1080 bait decomposes faster when it is buried closer to the surface.

“If it was buried in a position, either in or slightly above the water table in a relatively damp situation the biological processes and the chemical processes are likely to work faster near to the surface rather than if it was buried 10 or 15 metres deep, because it’s just the rate of chemical reactions and biological activity would be higher where it was warmer and closer to the surface,” Mr Bowman said.

Documents from the EPA said because of the way the 1080 cereal bait was disposed of in the Marton landfill it was not clear how deeply it was buried.

The EPA’s acting general manager for hazardous substances and new organisms, Clark Ehlers, said 1080 must have its approval before it can be imported, manufactured and used in New Zealand. This also includes how it is disposed of – which is outlined in the Hazardous Substances Disposal Notice 2017.

“Enforcement of the rules set out in the Disposal Notice at a place of work, such as a landfill, is the responsibility of WorkSafe,” he said in a statement. “Questions about the choice of location for disposal of 1080 should be directed to the Department of Conservation. Note that disposal of hazardous waste at a landfill is allowed if the landfill is approved to receive hazardous waste such as 1080 through a resource consent provided by the local council,” Mr Ehlers said.

Horizons Regional Council in Manawatu said there were no conditions prohibiting 1080 from being dumped in the Bonny Glen Landfill but officers were completing a routine assessment of the landfill’s compliance with resource consent conditions.