Rangitoto walking track 'covered in toxic waste'

By Michael Morrah

The Department of Conservation is being urged to take action over a toxic asbestos dump on Auckland’s Rangitoto Island.

Tonnes of the material are lying on and around public walking tracks.

DoC says it is safe, and it is too expensive to move.

It is the toxic legacy of this otherwise pristine island.

“For us to maintain our image of being clean, this is not clean. This path poses a risk to people if they're smashing up asbestos under their feet. It is a public walking track and it is covered in toxic waste,” says Sam Judd, Sustainable Coastlines co-founder.

That waste is near Yankee Wharf on the eastern side of the island, well away from the track to the crater, but still on a popular track that takes tourists to Motutapu.

It was left there after a World War II mine base was demolished in the late 1970s.

The mess on the island has now been inherited by the DoC. It says in an ideal world it would have it removed. But it has had independent advice that the asbestos in it is current state is safe.

“The advice we have been given is that there is no significant danger if they are walking through that site. There would be if they started smashing it up, cutting it up or burning it,” says Dave Vert, of DoC.

The asbestos is spread over 12 hectares and DoC says moving it could cost millions.

But the industry which cleans up contaminated sites says that is not good enough.

“It's simply unacceptable to have a huge area like that contaminated with that type of substance,” says Diana Stil, of the New Zealand Demolition and Asbestos Association

Ms Stil says over time the material is being disturbed, and is potentially dangerous.

“The material can become released into the air because of animals, people, and weathering. And, because it's exposed to the open ground,” she says.

Since 3 News started looking into the issue, DoC has said it will consider getting another assessment of the site to see if it is financially viable to remove it.

It also plans to upgrade the track, but in the short term it appears there is not any quick solution.

3 News

source: newshub archive