As the DomPost reported, at times water tests have revealed faecal coliform counts of 3600cfu/100ml, when the District Health Board says anything over 550cfu/100ml triggers danger alerts. Indeed, the “safe recreation” level is only 260cfu/100ml.
When AFFCO’s previous discharge consent (which actually allowed this level of contamination — once again, thank you for protecting us, HBRC!) came up for renewal in May 2008, the Regional Council considered the matter and imposed tougher conditions in the consent it approved in July 2009.
However, AFFCO indicated it would appeal that decision to the Environment Court, and a mediation process began that continues to this day … with no date certain as to when the “negotiating” will end. And all through this time — and into the future as mediation continues — this obscene level of pollution continues!
No wonder that some angry and frustrated citizen has erected this sign on St Aubyn’s Street saying: “WARNING: Your rivers are being POLLUTED daily. It’s time for a change.”
The Regional Council says that AFFCO made an honest mistake in incorrectly measuring its pollution levels. Am I the only one sensing a Tui billboard on this one?!
What about AFFCO? What kind of socially irresponsible company would commit this degree of pollution and seriously claim its environmental and health impacts were unproven?
AFFCO whines that it is “too early” to say they need to spend what they claim would be $2 million on mitigation. This is a company that reported a net profit before tax of $22 million in its most recent half-year report (31 March 2010), slightly ahead of the previous year. Spare us the crocodile tears AFFCO!
Indeed, AFFCO is an attractive enough business that it is the target of a takeover offer by the Talley Group. AFFCO’s Target Company Statement reports: “AFFCO does not consider that there is any other information about the assets, liabilities, profitability and financial affairs of AFFCO that could reasonably be expected to be material to the making of a decision by the offerees to accept or reject the Offer.”
In other words, if AFFCO is worried about potential mitigation costs, it is not so worried that it feels it must disclose this concern or risk as material to the takeover bid.
This company’s treatment of the Wairoa River is shameful. That its pollution will continue unabated, indefinitely, is shameful.
We’ve heard about the Tukituki being polluted by CHB sewage and up-river farm run-off. We’ve heard about the Karamu Stream being degraded by Hastings stormwater. We’ve heard about the Tarahua/Mohaka being polluted by dairy farm effluent. Now the Wairoa being polluted by AFFCO.
Had enough yet?!