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Moanataiari End-game

TCDC's position on Moanataiari became clearer with a press release at 6pm last evening.

To cut to the chase, the 0.001% additional risk of cancer which is the national standard relating to arsenic alone is exceeded on 73 properties, reaching as high as 0.00398 on 12 properties. This is a deviation from the ppm standard that has been quoted previously - no explanation is provided, but it does indicate a 'squirming' factor as the Governance Group has attempted to make the announcement as palatable as possible. There is no indication in the announcement of the levels of any other element that may constitute a danger, so we must assume that they are within safety levels.

The previously announced date for a final decision on action to be taken is 5 December may now be at risk because the GG has decided to avoid making that decision by referring the whole dilemma to the Ministry of Health "for advice on the appropriate response to the situation at Moanataiari". 

That is bad news because 'blind Ned' will know that the MoH will dive for the nearest cover, and a non-committal reply may be expected that will reduce the possibility of any further remediation claim being made on the MoE (Environment) Remediation Fund that is already under substantial pressure from other claims.  

The options on which TCDC is seeking advice are:

TCDC's preferred approach:

- Provide residents with safe soil for veggie growing

- Assistance to property owners to cover exposed soil

- A partnership between the MoH and TCDC to promote health advice related to living in a district with high mineralisation

The physical works approach - $10M cost

- Purchase and retire 12 properties

- Dig and dump thick cap remediation of 28 properties

- Dig and dump thin cap remediation of 62 properties

- Management and awareness programmes for 79 properties

All this comes following a quite remarkable press release on 15 November which appears to have been part of a 'softening up' process.

The new bioavailability data is in and the experts tell us that because arsenic at Moanataiairi is not readily absorbed by the body, the government's guideline for arsenic in soil of 20 parts per million (ppm) can be increased to 50ppm for Moanataiari

This means that there is no increase in health risk living at Moanataiari with arsenic at 50ppm or lower, compared to the government's standard of 20ppm.

Make what you like of that.


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