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Wednesday
Mar202013

Moanataiari Post No 13!

Many readers will question why I continue to follow and report on this saga. It is not because I enjoy it, but as with so many Council activities, there is almost an infinite series of actions that need to be undertaken in order to reach a point where we can say - "that's it - done and dusted!". 

A further 'progress' report goes to Council on 4 April (my birthday!) that is designed to seek endorsement of the actions taken to date, and those proposed for the future. This is the recommendation (including some fanciful references to MfE and WRC)

Option A – Support the provision of advice by health agencies and provide property information and other information

The downside of this option is that the expectation that was created by the project would not
be realised.

The irony of this circumstance is that, as earlier reported, it is considered that – in the identification of Moanataiari as a contaminated site requiring remediation - this council andour community were shepherded down a path that we need not have travelled. And now itappears that the shepherds have abandoned the fold.

Yet, to be fair to the decision of the MfE and WRC to pull their project funding and support, the fact is: the relative potential risk is small.

Moreover, whilst it is acknowledged that it would be desirable to further minimise risk from arsenic exposure from all sources, if the Hamilton circumstance provides many times more risk to a population a hundred- fold greater than Moanataiari; and, if there is no compulsion to remediate that source of arsenic exposure, then there is significantly less reason to remediate Moanataiari.

Again, to be fair to the MfE and WRC, this logical conclusion is manifestly congruent with their decision to pull funding and support for the project.

At the same time however, the Ministry of Health has offered the provision of ongoing support and advice on managing public health risk through the district medical officer of health. The Ministry has already made available a very readable booklet, entitled Arsenic and Health, and the Ministry commends to the Council this information in its letter of 26 February 2013.

If this option were implemented, the Council would undertake to distribute Arsenic and Health,and otherwise make it available through our website.

The estimated cost of implementing this option is within the resources provided for by
Council’s 2013/14 Annual Plan. It is considered that there are no other material financialor policy implications related to implementing this option. The following is somecommentary on statutory responsibilities that are relevant to this project:
  • Resource Management Act: Council's functions under the Act include responsibility for the prevention or mitigation of any adverse effects of the development, subdivisionor use of contaminated land. This does not necessarily suggest that Council ought to be responsible for physical remediation.
  • NES: Existing uses are not affected by the NES. The NES only applies in the case of subdivision, land use change, earthworks of a certain scale, soil sampling or removing fuel storage systems.
  • Building Act: The issue of contaminated land is not covered by the Act's provisions relating to construction on land subject to natural hazards (sections 71 and 71).
  • Health Act: The Act defines a health nuisance as including sites "in such a state as to be offensive or likely to be injurious to health" (emphasis added).
  • Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act: The Act covers the provision of LIMs, which is discussed elsewhere in this report.
Finally, it is useful to note that implementing this option does not necessarily close the door on the availability of remediation funding assistance from the MfE and WRC to individual property owners, if sought. Though the Council might understandably decline to be again involved in a contaminated land
funding partnership with the MfE and WRC, the WRC's offerextends to helping individual property owners if they want to apply to the MfE’s contaminated sites remediation fund. 
The following quotes will probably best exemplify the state of the relationship with the two putative partners:
"It had apparently escaped the Ministry's attention that detailed action planning was the key
component of the very next project phase; and, ironically, the Ministry's termin
ation of funding and support meant that detailed remedial planning would possibly now never
happen."
and 
"Of their subsequent February 2013 Council meeting, the WRC reported that "Thames -
Coromandel constituency councillor Simon Friar said he was disappointed that the district
Council had chosen to abruptly end the project without completing a detailed action plan to
manage the risks.

It had apparently escaped the WRC's attention that it was not we but they, by reason of
their withdrawal of funding and support, who ended the project"

I am well aware that there are certain 'person's of influence' in the District who deplore the breakdown of this relationship, but to be honest, I do not believe that our Council had any option inasmuch as the Governance Committee majority decision was treated with total distain by the partners, whose motives must to be called into question. The wording could probably be improved to avoid giving further offence, but as we all know, this reflects the style of our mayoral incumbent. As for our Simon Friar, the least said the better.  

The overall asesment of the prefered option is as follows:

Option A can be implemented by Council without further reference to or reliance upon the MfE and WRC. Implementation of this option will, however, require support and advice on managing public health risks through the district medical officer of health. Advice from theMinistry of Health is that this support is forthcoming. Council may implement this option without the need to seek further funding than that which is provided for by its draft 2013/2014 Annual Plan.

So that is a relief!

 

 

 

 

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