8 Oct 2014

Council chair rejects oil waste claim

3:32 pm on 8 October 2014

Fonterra director David MacLeod rejects any suggestion that the council he is chairman of is undermining food safety or New Zealand's reputation in any way.

Mr MacLeod is chairman of the Taranaki Regional Council, which consents the disposal of oil industry waste onto about a dozen dairy and drystock farms, known as landfarms, in the region.

A senior veterinarian at Massey University, Alan Thatcher, said this week that he fears landfarms could lead to a food safety scandal and are dangerous for livestock.

However, Mr MacLeod said while there are isolated occasions when livestock have been exposed to oil industry waste on landfarms - before bioremediation is complete - this is not routine and the council has been transparent about this.

Mr MacLeod said it has clearly signalled that it does not condone the grazing of livestock on landfarms, but has no lawful powers to control movements of stock.

While there are no rules stopping livestock grazing on active landfarms, Mr MacLeod said the council is not reckless by allowing petrochemical waste to be spread on them, as it is complying with its responsibilities under the Resource Management Act.

The Government has set up a working group to bring in rules to protect livestock on landfarms after being urged to intervene by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright.

While the commissioner criticised the hands-off regulation and the complete lack of protection for livestock on landfarms, Mr MacLeod said Dr Wright "if anything, supports landfarming in her report".

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