Coromandel Harbour Project
Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 5:37PM
Bill Barclay

I need to get this down at once because it was such a confusing debate - if you could call it that. 

Cranleigh's report ('Milestone Two') caused real irritation around the table as they argued over what was 'geophysical' and what was 'geotechnical' - don't ask me - it all went over my head, but whatever the answer, Cranleigh have been asked to go away and obtain a further raft of information before proceeding to 'Signpost Three" (and that is a relief!) Basically, they have to come up with a convincing argument that it is a good idea to proceed with further major expenditure, given the likely cost of remediation. It was the absence of this information that sent Leach into the stratosphere at today’s meeting – and I don’t blame him.

I think that Leach has taken it aboard that this is a gravy train, and Cranleigh's performance to date leaves a lot to be desired - they simply don't have the information about potential remediation costs that are needed to proceed, and now they have until the Economic Development Committee meeting on 4 February to come up with some credible figures. This will apparently require substantial further drilling and sampling under the current 1.5m level to where they have currently drilled their four (totally inadequate) samples.

They must establish the actual depth of contamination having found it down to 1.5m. And this all over the 15m wide channel. To be honest - I think they have a major task there - they have no idea just how far it goes, and having identified contamination (Arsenic and Mercury mainly), they have to 'get to the bottom of it' otherwise TCDC are going to be at loggerheads with WRC and the Government if they are going to be seeking any funding from that direction - Moanataiari certainly taught them that!

Leach kept coming back to the fact that there is no way that anyone will get an open cheque book on this deal until the cost of de-contamination is known - as he said, the cost may be prohibitive - "Furey's Creek will eventually be built , but it may not be for some time."  I was impressed that he seemed to realise the likely opposition out there to dredging will increase exponentially unless total remediation can be achieved within reasonable cost. I think the Greg, Francois Pienaar and Ben Day all went away with a flea in their ear for coming up with an inadequate report - they better have it right by 4 February. Frankly I would have fired Cranleigh on the spot, and brought in real experts, as were employed at Moanataiari (see earlier post). I obtained no confidence from the content of this Report that these people are not out of their depth - literally.  

So forget the high level business case - Greg tried plaintively to claim that this was it, but it is not - that is clear. There is no way that it can be until they have credible figures, and that will be hard. Just dwell for a moment on the $242,000 already spent - what a Hoop-la!

By way of example, there are contradictions galore in the guts of the Report concerning contamination put together by Brian Coffey & Associates of Hamilton (Cranleigh appear to be simply the co-ordinator of the Report). When you cut through all the jargon, what you are left with is the statement that there is contamination within the planned dredging area up to Furey’s Creek, and that it will have to be removed and placed elsewhere before the project can proceed – end of story! Either that or they will have to curtain pile the entire channel – Wow!

But then all the equivocations start – firstly by endeavouring to downplay the seriousness of the contamination, but finishing with the astonishing statement that “threshold levels for “acceptable” or “safe” concentrations of heavy metals are less adequately researched for marine sediments than for water”, and then they draw attention to the controversy over dumping marine sediments from Ports of Auckland in the Hauraki Gulf.

I don’t like the chances of this proceeding much further even though it will break Glenn's heart if he has to give up on this prime plank in his platform.

 

 

 

Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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