Wood plant's illegally leaking waste to be fixed

9:30 pm on 4 May 2019

A wood processing plant near Napier that's been illegally leaking waste into the sea for months hopes a broken pipe will finally be fixed next week.

A warning sign on Whirinaki.

A warning sign on Whirinaki Beach . Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley

The pipe from Pan Pac Forest Products is meant to carry wastewater more than two kilometres out to sea, but has been leaking brown foamy water onto Whirinaki Beach since September.

Numerous unsuccessful attempts to fix it had so far cost "in excess of $700,000" and the latest work was likely to bring the total to just under $1 million, Pan Pac chief executive Doug Ducker said.

Many local residents who lived opposite the beach were frustrated that it was taking so long to rectify but Mr Ducker said he hoped it would finally be fixed by Thursday.

"The fact it's taken time is frustrating us as much as it's frustrating anyone else but we really believe we are on the home straight now."

Unsuccessful patches were being replaced with a liner and it had taken longer than expected because "additional failures" had been detected during investigations that also needed fixing, Mr Ducker said.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council decided in March it would not prosecute Pan Pac for illegally leaking waste onto the beach because it was doing all it could to fix it.

A request by RNZ under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act for documents relating to that decision were denied by the council on the basis it could prejudice "free and frank expression of opinion" by officials, or concerns the information could be used by companies to challenge any future investigations.

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