A Tauranga marae is shocked after learning a dangerous chemical was discovered just a few hundred metres from where residents live.
Whareroa Marae has been campaigning for cleaner air and the managed retreat of the Mount Maunganui industrial area for years.
But on Saturday the Bay of Plenty Regional Council told iwi a resource consent application by Lawter NZ Ltd. had detected traces of Polyfluoroalkyl (MPAS) in the groundwater.
Joel Ngatuere, a Whareroa Marae spokesperson, says they’re worried and told 1 NEWS the council says “it’s really unsafe for human health”.
He says the greatest concern “is that it’s in the soil right here, where we’re standing” and is calling for government intervention.
“I think the Government can no longer sit on their hands, and waiting for the regional council to take action.
“We’re tired of talking in circles, we’re tired of being directed to different councils.”
He says it’s time for the Prime Minister and Health Minister to address what’s happening at the marae and the wider community.
In a statement, Environment Minister David Parker says he is aware of the “possible groundwater contamination”, and understands the “concerns” of iwi given the location of the site.
However the minister says because of the heavily industrialised area “the detection of some PFAS compounds in a contaminated land assessment is not unexpected”.
Lawter NZ Ltd says it “identified a low-level of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on site” and alerted Bay of Plenty Regional Council immediately.
It says it does not use this substance anywhere on site, or within its manufacturing processes.
Despite the substance being dangerous in high doses, council and the company say there is no risk to the Mount Maunganui drinking water supply.
The regional council says it will take four weeks to get the initial investigation results, and will continue to work closely with the Whareroa community.