Council assured dump poses little risk to Greymouth water

7:08 pm on 7 February 2023
The Grey District Council Coal Creek water plant, looking west towards Greymouth.

The Grey District Council Coal Creek water plant, looking west towards Greymouth. Photo: LDR / Brendon McMahon

The Grey District Council has been assured the proximity of a dump, taking asbestos and toxic material to the Greymouth water treatment plant, poses little risk.

But it said it was still not satisfied its concerns were adequately considered by the West Coast Regional Council during the consenting process in the first place.

Mayor Tania Gibson and senior management met on Friday with Taylorville Resource Park management to discuss the district council's concerns.

Gibson today said they now had some clarity around the site, and talk of toxic liquids being disposed there had been "a misunderstanding".

But her council still wanted to ensure "due process" had been followed when the site was consented, she said.

The district council was miffed it was not treated as an affected party when the initial consent application was lodged in July 2021, or for the two subsequent variation applications later granted.

"We're going to go through our processes with the regional council to make sure there is due processes and to assess our risk, to check their processes and why we weren't treated as an affected party," Gibson said.

At the same time, the council wanted to assure the greater Greymouth community "it is safe to drink our water".

However, the regional council on Monday again stood by its processes.

Acting consents and compliance manager Rachel Clark said the council did not seek external advice on the technical evidence provided by the applicant for the original consent or the variations.

Information provided by the applicant had been subject to "internal review" by the consents and resource science staff.

In making a decision they relied solely on the evidence provided by the applicant with an assessment "based on internal expertise", Clark said.

The district council had been given a "heads up" by the regional council about the applications.

"All consents go out to a large list of people at the end of each week. This list includes the three district councils and they regularly get in touch if they have any issues.

"The (Grey) District Council also consented the site so were well aware of what was occurring there," Clark said.

GDC Group manager operations Aaron Haymes said the district council had to be able to demonstrate to the national drinking water regulator the public supply "is safe".

"The risk level for us is we can't afford to have any contaminants going into the water supply."

Grey was still not satisfied its role as a public water supplier had been adequately considered.

Grey would continue its own investigation "so we can really satisfy ourselves that we cannot worry about the water long term".

At the same time the council was undertaking its own regular ground water testing for the public supply.

"People shouldn't be too worried."

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