Foam contamination found in streams around Palmerston North airport

Contamination from banned chemicals in firefighting foam at levels above safe drinking water guidelines has been found in streams around Palmerston North airport.

Seven surface water samples have all tested above the guidelines for the banned chemical PFOS.

People are being advised to not gather eels or watercress at Mangaone Stream, Richardsons Line Drain or streams near the airport flowing through the Madison Avenue and Jefferson Crescent area, Clearview Park and McGregor Street.

Streams around Palmerston North airport are contaminated with firefighting foam chemicals at between three and 12 times the safe drinking water guidelines.

But Palmerston North City Council said ecological toxicity limits were not exceeded in the streams.

None of the waterways were used for the city's supply and drinking water bores on the city supply tested all-clear of PFOS in April, the city council said.

"This means everyone on the Palmerston North water supply can be reassured it is not contaminated and is safe for consumption," chief executive Heather Shotter said.

However, anyone with a private bore near the airport was being urged to contact authorities.

Swimming and showering in potentially affected water is not considered to pose a significant risk.

Two dozen soil and sediment samples were also tested from the former fire training area, north of the main runway and around the Rescue Fire Station site. It is unclear what the results of those tests are.

The airport has admitted using the foam up till last December despite it being banned in 2006.

About 250 litres of firefighting foam concentrate had been used since the late 1980s for testing fire truck foam systems, the airport said.

However, the chemical, and other man-made chemicals from the long-lasting and damaging per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) family, are extremely long-lasting.

They build up in the body with repeated exposure over time. Research into their health impacts is so far inconclusive, although in Europe and parts of the US they are considered possibly cancer-causing, or an actual risk to unborn babies.

A group with representatives from Palmerston North Airport, Horizons Regional Council, Palmerston North City Council, and MidCentral DHB Public Health Services has been set up to handle the PFOS contamination.

The airport was working on a disposal plan of PFOS foam, which would be replaced with fluorine-free firefighting foam, airport chief executive David Lanham said.

More bores will begin to be drilled next week for more tests, to assess if contaminated groundwater was moving off the airport site, Mr Lanham said.

The regulation of PFASs has been weak.

Several airports including Auckland, have admitted using or storing the PFOS foam until recently despite it being banned in 2006, as has the petrochemical industry in Taranaki.

Regional councils have been ordered to identify potentially contaminated sites but little investigating has been done, with councils saying they are waiting for more guidance from the Environment Ministry.

The Defence Force is exempt from fines under the Resource Management Act over its contamination of groundwater at several bases.

"There are no formal requirements for landowners or regulatory authorities to notify [the public of] the results of investigations," the ministry said in a statement today.

"A landowner could, however, be required to report potential contamination when seeking resource consent."

PFASs were not included in the drinking-water standards, only in interim guidelines, so district health boards and the Ministry of Health do not need to be told if they were found, it said.

Port Taranaki found high levels of PFOS beside a tank farm near New Plymouth in July 2017 but did not tell anyone else for a year.

"Currently there is no consistent evidence that environmental exposures at the low levels New Zealanders are generally exposed to will cause harmful health effects," the ministry said.

"The interim guidance levels for PFOS and PFOA in drinking water were derived from effects found at certain doses in animal studies.

The guidance levels are based on a person weighing 70 kg drinking 2 litres of water every day over a lifetime without any significant risk to health.

Although there is no consistent evidence that the effects in animals also occur in humans, the Ministry of Health recommends that an alternative drinking water source is used to protect health if the interim guidance levels are exceeded."

- By Phil Pennington

The foam has already contaminated drinking water at properties near Ohakea and Woodbourne airbases.
Source: 1 NEWS

South Auckland charity The Aunties takes home top Women of Influence Award

The founder of a South Auckland charity group dubbed The Aunties has won the top honour at the Women of Influence Awards.

Jackie Clark set up the not-for-profit organisation six years ago to help vulnerable women and children who've experienced domestic violence.

The group's primary aim is to provide material needs to those they support.

"The Aunties believe everyone has the right to be safe, to have shelter, to be fed, to be loved, to dream, to read, to write, to have their say, and to be heard," the group proclaims on its Givealittle page. "Where any of those things are missing, the Aunties mission is to help provide them - the practical things, and also in terms of advocacy and pastoral care."

The group says it believes in manaakitanga - protecting the mana of the people they help so that they can find their way towards living independently, and with dignity and joy.

"Jackie and her fellow Aunties give without seeking anything in return and without judgement," said Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean, whose company co-sponsors the Women of Influence Awards. "She, and her core of other Aunties, ask vulnerable women what they need and then set about making it happen, in a completely selfless way.

"They have made an enormous contribution to our local communities at grassroots level."

The award ceremony was held last night at SkyCity in Auckland.

Here's the full list of winners:
Supreme Winner: Jackie Clark
Lifetime Achievement: Theresa Gattung
Arts and Culture: Miranda Harcourt
Board and Management: Dr Farah Palmer
Business and Enterprise: Angie Judge
Rural: Rebecca Keoghan
Public Policy: Charlotte Korte
Community/Not for Profit: Jackie Clark
Innovation and Science: Professor Wendy Larner
Diversity: Sarah Lang
Global: Sarah Vrede
Young Leader: Maddison McQueen-Davies

Jackie Clark set up the non-for-profit six years ago, which aims to help vulnerable women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Source: Breakfast


Eleven Glenorchy homes still without power 48 hours after early spring snowfall

Some resident in Central Otago's Glenorchy are still without power 48 hours after a spring snowfall caused major disruptions in the deep south.

Eleven properties remains with power this morning.

Aurora Energy is hoping to have power restored to the area by this evening.

Around 360 households in the central Otago town are affected, with Aurora Energy hoping to have electricity back on by this evening. Source: Breakfast

In many places power was cut, schools were closed and flights cancelled. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: Artist uses pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy around town

A Kiwi artist are architect is using a pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask people what makes them smile, but instead of rolling up to you on the street he's built a pyramid to help lighten people's moods.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp's Lucas de Jong went along to take a look and share a laugh in the video above.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask Kiwis what makes them smile. Source: Seven Sharp

Britain can flourish even without Brexit deal, says UK's Foreign Secretary

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the UK will flourish with or without an agreement on its relationship with the European Union after it leaves the grouping next year.

A "no-deal" Brexit is possible, he said in an interview in Tokyo, "but I don't think it's in anyone's interest for that to happen. So that's why we are cautiously optimistic that we will get a deal. But there's a lot of work to do to get there."

British Prime Minister Theresa May travels to Salzburg, Austria, on today to meet other EU leaders. She needs to win over both the European Union and critics of her Brexit proposal within her own Conservative Party. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29.

Japanese companies with operations in Britain are among those worried about the impact of a "no-deal" Brexit, in particular on their ability to export from the U.K. to the rest of Europe without tariffs or other trade restrictions. Under a no-deal scenario, the U.K. would leave the EU without establishing rules for future trade between Britain and the 27 remaining EU member countries.

"The U.K. will flourish and prosper as one of the strongest economies in the world whatever the outcome of these talks," Hunt said, noting its business-friendly environment and strong universities.

He defended the May government's proposed Brexit deal, which has been roundly attacked by his predecessor, Boris Johnson. Hunt succeeded Johnson as foreign secretary in July.

"British politics is littered with the graveyards of people who have predicted the demise of Theresa May and been proved wrong," he said.

"Of course Boris Johnson doesn't agree with some of the policy decisions that she's taken, but Theresa May has to speak not just for the 52 percent who voted for Brexit, she has to speak for 100 percent of the country," he added.

Hunt is in the Japanese capital to hold annual U.K.-Japan strategic dialogue talks with Foreign Minister Taro Kono.

He said he welcomes the summit that started Tuesday between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but that the time has come for the North to take concrete steps toward eliminating its nuclear weapons.

"Words get you so far. I think words have helped, they've changed the atmosphere, but we need to see actions now," he said.

Britain has sent warships to the Pacific to help patrol for transfers between ships at sea that violate economic sanctions on North Korea. Hunt said Britain is ready to relax sanctions if there is concrete evidence of change on the North Korean side.

Hunt, who lived in Japan in the early 1990s, delivered a short speech without notes in Japanese to about 50 people from U.K.-Japan exchange programs.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech during a "strategic dialogue” at British Embassy in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Hunt said it’s time for North Korea to take concrete actions toward eliminating its nuclear weapons. Hunt told that Britain is ready to relax economic sanctions on North Korea when there is concrete evidence of a change from the North Korean side. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech during a "strategic dialogue” at British Embassy in Tokyo. Source: Associated Press