How could our beaches and harbors be polluted, when they’re brimming with anti-fouling chemicals?
If you thought New Zealand Coastal waters are among the dirtiest in the world, brimming with farm runoffs, toxic chemicals, industrial and household waste, raw sewage…, you’d be right!
Harbour a ‘chemical cocktail’
By BLAIRE ENSOR – The Marlborough Express
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2708386/Harbour-a-chemical-cocktailLast updated 13:00 31/07/2009
A corner of Picton Harbour contains some of the highest levels of anti-fouling chemical pollutants recorded in New Zealand, a council report released today states.
The 2008 Marlborough District Council State of the Environment Report says 3100 square metres of the sea bed in Picton Harbour has some of the highest levels of copper, mercury and tributyltin in the country.
Products used to combat fouling on the hulls of ships are to blame, the report says.
Some of the contamination will be removed when the sea bottom is dredged to make room for foundations in the redevelopment of the Picton waterfront, and the remainder is expected to dissipate naturally.
Marlborough District Council environmental scientist Colin Gray said health risks of the contaminants to humans had not been considered because it was an operational port.
“It’s not an area where the public are going to swim in and collect shellfish.”
State of New Zealand lakes. NZ govt photo.
The problem was identified in a 2003 council survey as part of evaluations of the distribution of antifouling chemicals and sediments in harbours around New Zealand.
The report said the area affected was adjacent to the old Carey’s boatyard site, but the boatyard had been removed so continued fouling was no longer an issue. Monitoring is being carried out to assess how best to clean up the mess.
However, the boatyard’s Ailsa Carey said at a hearing for the Picton foreshore redevelopment plans last month that the Cawthron Institute report, which blamed Carey’s boat yard for the pollution, was unfair.
As well as Carey’s, there had been at least four other boat building and engineering businesses in the immediate area and all would have contributed to the contamination, Ms Carey said.
The boatyard had not always belonged to Carey’s and was even owned by the harbour board for some time, she said.
Marlborough District Council executive projects manager Jamie Lyall told Ms Carey the redevelopment file would be changed to “set the record straight”.
Mr Lyall said a study by the Cawthron Institute showed the contaminant was in the top 150mm of the sea bed. As part of the redevelopment of the Picton waterfront about 12 cubic metres of the contaminants would be removed by dredging, he said.
The dredged material would be tested onsite to check its risk before it could be accepted by the land fill in Blenheim.
Mr Lyall said the contaminated area that remained would continue to be monitored, but studies had shown it was likely to dissipate naturally.
A council spokeswoman said it was necessary to obtain a resource consent to discharge antifouling chemicals, and chemicals used by operators had changed in recent years.
The state of the environment report also showed that cases of illegal dumping in Marlborough have spiked.
Illegal dumping of rubbish increased from 119 instances for the year ended June 2006, to 188 for the year ended June 2008.
Litter infringement notices increased from 60 to 68 over the same period.
Reserves ranger and litter control officer Kevin Hawkins said instances of littering to June 2009 had decreased slightly to 181 with only 40 infringement notices handed down.
He attributed the small decrease to increased frequency of patrols and an increase in the maximum fine from $100 to $400 at the beginning of 2008 which may have deterred people from dumping rubbish.
“If we don’t have a more responsible attitude our reserves will turn into rubbish dumps,” he said.
Mr Hawkins also pointed out a sharp increase in the illegal dumping of garden waste: 101 instances in June 2008 to 315 in June 2009.
“It’s unsightly, people need to dispose of it in a lawful manner.”
Mr Hawkins said council patrols did not just operate during the daylight hours.
“We operate in hours of darkness,” which was a time people like to dispose of rubbish and garden waste.
He appreciated the co-operation from the public reporting offending vehicles.
“The police can’t operate without public support and neither can we. I’m happy to take calls 24/7.” © 2009 Fairfax New Zealand Limited
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