Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Toxic Dump Uncovered Beneath Children's Playground

From the Taranaki Daily News by Kirsty Johnston:

"Toxic chemicals have been found at a children's playground in Marfell, the site of a New Plymouth's former city dump.
The chemicals were tetrachlorobenzene and trichlorophenol, both used in the manufacture of herbicides, Taranaki Regional Council director of environment quality Gary Bedford said yesterday.
Workers laying a stormwater drain discovered two drums containing chemicals at Marfell Park in May, and further excavation revealed remnants of at least seven other drums.
The Taranaki Regional Council said yesterday the chemicals were not a public health risk, but long-time dioxin campaigner Andrew Gibbs said the find was "abominable."
"It is of concern when you find those levels of chemicals under a children's playground," Mr Gibbs said.
He believed it proved the TRC's 2001 investigation which found no evidence of illegal dumping at 31 alleged contaminated sites, including Marfell Park, had been wrong.
"They've ignored the problem because of where it is. If it was in another suburb then would they care?"
The TRC launched its 2001 investigation after fears that cancer-causing dioxin waste from the Ivon Watkins herbicide plant* had been buried at various sites around New Plymouth.
Mr Bedford said yesterday that given that the Marfell site used to be a landfill up to the 1960s, dumping the chemicals would not have been illegal.
"It's not a surprise but, no, we did not know they were there," he said......."
The rest of the report may be found here: "Drums contained toxins"

*Ivon Watkins Dow (now named Dow Agro Sciences)manufactured herbicides '24D' and '245T', used in equal part in the manufacture of the defoliant Agent Orange, at its Paritutu plant for use in the Vietman war. The dioxin contaminant TCDD within '245T' is considered to be highly toxic to humans. Exposure to dioxins is alleged to have resulted in an estimated 10% increase in cancer deaths in the New Plymouth area.

Over a 30 year time span 20 million litres of the 2 herbicides were sprayed in New Zealand to control gorse and other weeds. The NZ government was said to have subsidised the use of the herbicides and 245T was both produced and used in NZ long after other countries had banned them. Production in the USA ceased in 1979 but continued in New Plymouth until 1987
See Agent Orange dump found under New Plymouth

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