Wellington Scoop

Smells from Porirua tip are dangerous to its operators, says leaked report

Radio New Zealand today revealed the source of nasty smells coming from a Porirua landfill that’s run by a company owned by one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Radio New Zealand reports that there is an exceptionally high concentration of hydrogen sulphide in gas at the landfill, which is unusual, and dangerous to operators at the tip.

The smelly tip is the Spicer Landfill, which is owned by the Porirua City Council and operated under contract to the council by EnviroWaste which is owned by the Hong Kong-based Cheung Kong Infrastructure. CKI was founded in the 1950s by self-made billionaire Sir Li Ka-shing, whose businesses include water, power and gas networks in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and China. In New Zealand, CKI owns Wellington Electricity which runs the network that delivers our power supply.

Since the middle of last year there has been a jump in the number of complaints about smells coming from the Porirua tip, with the Regional Council saying the odours have a significant impact on the environment and local community.

The EnviroWaste website describes how a Porirua rubbish tip came to be run by a company that’s owned by a Hong Kong billionaire.

EnviroWaste was established in July 1995, combining the waste disposal operations carried out in Auckland by Northern Disposal Systems Limited (NDSL) and the waste collection businesses operated in the South Island by the Waste Services Division of Fulton Hogan Limited. NDSL has its origins in the Auckland Regional Council (ARC), which was responsible for the provision of waste disposal facilities for the Auckland Region prior to 1991. In that year, Northern Disposal Systems Limited was incorporated as a Local Authority Trading Enterprise owned by the ARC, incorporating business skills through an independent Board of Directors. As a result of local body restructuring, NDSL became a 100% owned subsidiary of Infrastructure Auckland, a public body owned by the Councils of the greater Auckland area.

By 1995, NDSL’s two main Auckland landfills were nearing completion and, while steps were being taken to secure a new landfill site, it was apparent that entry into the collections market would be a key to securing volumes to justify the investment in a new landfill. At the same time, Fulton Hogan decided to expand their waste business into the North Island. Clear synergies were identified by the two parties, and it was from these foundations that EnviroWaste Services Limited was formed.

In November 2001 Infrastructure Auckland, in a move designed to refocus on its core mission, sold its 50% shareholding in EnviroWaste to Fulton Hogan. Under Fulton Hogan, EnviroWaste’s range of services was expanded to include environmental consulting, collection and processing of organic waste streams and recycling. Fulton Hogan sold the company to funds managed or advised by Ironbridge Capital in April 2007. Under the ownership of Ironbridge Capital, EnviroWaste made a number of acquisitions that continued to provide new presence in major locations. In 2013, Ironbridge Capital sold the company to Cheung Kong Infrastructure.

Radio New Zealand says the source of the smells is identified in a leaked report, prepared for EnviroWaste by AECOM Consulting.

The Porirua City Council’s acting general manager of assets, Geoff Marshall, told Radio New Zealand it couldn’t comment on the report because an abatement notice has been served on EnviroWaste for a resource consent breach for offensive and objectionable smells.

“The report … was prepared in the context of proceedings before the Environment Court, so we can’t comment on it other than to say that [Porirua City Council] is taking its own expert advice on the issues that were raised in that report.”

[This article and its headline have been corrected since first published, to make it clear that EnviroWaste operates the landfill but does not own it.]

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  1. RS, 29. September 2015, 10:57

    Something is wrong with our world. How can it be that a local council has a company owned in Hong Kong managing a small local landfill? Not to mention it owning Wellington Power. We’ve lost our way surely?

  2. RT, 29. September 2015, 14:12

    Well, with all that money behind them they should be able to fix it all by next week – no excuse now lol.