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The mud from the Makara wind turbines; and the pollution of Porirua Harbour

Wellington.Scoop
Photos by Jim Mikoz

Photographs taken at Meridian’s West Wind project above the Makara coastline show how sediment has been overflowing from the construction site.

The photos were taken by marine environmentalist Jim Mikoz, who wrote an article in the NZ Fishing Coast to Coast magazine with the headline: The dirt behind wind turbines.. your fishing is at serious risk. In response to the article, Meridian wrote a letter to the editor stating that there would be no mud runoff into the sea from its construction site. The letter, by Adam Muldoon, NZ Wind Development Manager Meridian Energy, said:

“Meridian can unequivocally state there will be no significant damage to the coastal intertidal or estuarine environment from any wind development it carries out in the south coast Wellington area, either during construction or long term operation.”

Three of the comments received by Wellington.Scoop in response to Monday’s article on the Makara windfarm have expressed concern about environmental damage, with a diver describing a layer of silt on rocks, plants and the seabed. Jim Mikoz’s photos focus on problems with sediment traps at the one of the Meridian turbines.

Jim Mikoz says the Wellington Regional Council shares responsibility for the problems because of the design failure of sediment traps and inadequate management of the resource consent conditions of compliance.

“Not only is the mud being directed down the hill, there is no requirement to require operators to clear a sediment trap once it becomes full or to remove the mud into sediment boxes – which is a requirement made of industrial sites where mud may flow into a stream.”

Alongside this wind turbine, the concrete pipe with the hole in it catches the mud which is then directed down the bank, bypassing any other sediment trap.

The pipe is poking out of the bank under the nose of the turbine.

The sediment trap with two ponds has clearly overflowed, with the mud going down into the stream around the coast from Makara Beach. However, says Jim Mikoz, there is no evidence that provision has been made to clear it, and a dam made of dirt will always fail when the rain is heavy.

“The history of heavy rainfall at Makara has not been researched to even consider building a sediment trap dam of loose dirt,” says Jim Mikoz. “This one will fail in the first big rain fall, just as other dirt dams in the Wellington region have done made of dirt dams.”

Photos taken at the Aotea subdivision in Porirua are proof of the damage that is caused by an inadequately-designed sediment trap.

A sediment trap overflows after heavy rain.

As a consequence, mud flows into Porirua Harbour. In the last ten years, mud has decreased the harbour water depth by over one metre.

Jim Mikoz writes: Another impact of sediment traps is the practice of flocking them with chemicals to trap the mud into the sediment so that the public can think they look clean. Unfortunately when it rains the sediment flows down the streams into the Porirua harbour where those who use the water for their sport receive skin infections for some days after, because the fresh water, now full of chemicals, lies on the sea surface for a number of days without wind to break it down into the seawater. The impact on marine life from mud and chemicals is massive and those that can swim have to move out while the marine life they feed on is smothered and killed.

7 comments:

  1. Makara Resident, 27. March 2009, 10:02

    Meridian’s estimated (by meridian) 1,800,000 cubic metres of earthworks carried out for project West Wind has resulted in many serious spills of mud into the South Makara and Makara Streams causing the South Makara Stream to flow as “a river of mud” and has resulted in a massive mud build up in the regionally significant Makara Estuary. Many of these spoills have been documented by Greater Wellington although Meridian has never been prosecuted.

    The Makara estuary, once a haven for Yellow Eyed Mullet, is now polluted to the extent that mullet no longer have a food source and have not been present this last summer. As a result, Kahawai were virtually non-existent off Makara Beach this summer, a marked change from prevfious years.

    Some of you may have seen Meridian’s visual simulations of how the turbines were supposed to look when comming into the Makara Valley., almost invisible. The truth is now out there with turbines now being erected so all visitors to Makara will now understand the extent of Meridian’s con job.

    With a Council pushing wind power and an SOE that has no regard for its vast environmentally damaging footprint, Wellington will very soon become like Palmerston, a massive industrial landscape over its prime rural hinterland, and a tourism joke.

     
  2. Duncan Babbage, 28. March 2009, 19:38

    Makara is a tourist destination?

     
  3. lindsay, 29. March 2009, 11:10

    Of course Makara is a destination for tourists. I’ve taken visitors there from the UK, the USA, France, Germany, India. They are always impressed … When I was with a distinguished screenwriter from Prague, she wept when she saw the untouched beauty of the Makara hills. She would weep for different reasons these days.

     
  4. scotty, 31. March 2009, 16:48

    Which part of Makara Hills are untouched. I see areas of farmland much of which has been neglected by the landowners over the years

     
  5. Nick Jennings, 31. March 2009, 18:38

    And I took one of my brother’s friends and his partner (both from Germany), to Makara Beach when their cruise ship docked for a day in Wellington. They were rapt.
    Apart from that there are hundreds of visitors to Makara Beach, particularly in good weather, during weekends and a surprising number throughout the week as well.
    One of the delights of the area has been the way visitors disappear round the coast, often leaving the beach road end area looking almost deserted in spite of 50 0r more parked cars.

     
  6. Wendy Brock, 2. April 2009, 9:52

    As I read the above article on the consequences of the mud slide I think this was so predictable. Only it won’t stop there. The best is yet to come. Noise and lots of it especially at night, and when you,re lacking sleep and a tad grumpy you will be able to be constantly reminded of their presence as you look upon your once beautiful landscape now an industrialised robotic scrap yard. It’s enough that clever marketing and advertising have lured people into thinking these turbines are the environmental saviour of the world. Issues discussed at resource consent hearings are misrepresented ( in my day I would call it lying),
    but the icing on the very sour cake is that there is NO REAL way to litigate the issues and breaches of compliance that occur post consent hearings and Meridian know this. The question is are we happy to sit by and watch our neighbours’ landscape be raped and irrevocably changed all in the name of progress. New Zealand is a young country and we do not have castles or vast historic sights but our flora, fauna, and landscape are well worth treasuring and protecting for generations to come.

     
  7. Chaz, 29. August 2009, 11:55

    Regarding Project Central Wind, Meridian ‘experts’ have said that there will be no run-off of sediment, quoting experience gained at other wind farms, but notably omitting Makara from the list – funny, that.
    It’s a major issue since Taihape’s drinking water comes from where this pinwheel junkyard is being built.
    They totally fail to comment about such things as oil leakage from the turbines, diesel spills, detergents used to clean the turbines or any other potential health hazards.