24 Feb 2012

Niue may bury asbestos waste after New Zealand refuses to take it back

6:46 pm on 24 February 2012

The Premier of Niue, Toke Talagi, says his government has made a decision, in principle, to bury asbestos waste on the island.

There have been concerns about asbestos on Niue since Cyclone Heta eight years ago wrecked a large number of buildings and left quantities of the toxic material littering the island.

Efforts have been made to clean it up, with the possibility it might be shipped to New Zealand but Niue has been advised that New Zealand won't accept it.

Mr Talagi says if it is buried on Niue it will be enclosed in the containers so leaching should not occur.

He says he doubts burying will add to environmental worries that have been around for 60 years.

"What however we need to do is to ensure that we gather it all up, put it in containers - that is the first objective. We have agreed in principle to burying it here, but that is another set of circumstances and considerations we need to work on."