Hawke's Bay residents furious after forester's pipe leaves beach 'unswimmable'

A small coastal community is pleading with a local forestry company to stop holding their beach to ransom. 

Whirinaki Beach, in the Hawke's Bay, has been unswimmable for months, because of a broken wasterwater pipe leaking brown foamy water into the sea. 

Warren Kohils and his family are sick of the leaking pipe which, they say, stole Whirinaki Beach from their community last September. 

The shore is stained, the water is murky and the culprit is wastewater run-off from making wood pulp. 

At first it was thought to be algal bloom, but Pan Pac - the forestry company that owns the pipe - has since admitted the cause is actually a pipe rupture. 

Mr Kohlis says Pan Pac has been breaching its resource consent for four months.

"They have a consent for 2.4 kilometres out. They have got a break in the pipe, and we believe they should stop discharging until the pipe is fixed," he says.

While it's not deemed to be a major health risk, the run-off can cause skin irritation. However, it has been hard to locate where the leak is.

"We've got a steel pipeline that is encased in concrete, and we've found where the concrete has split and somewhere beneath that the steel has been penetrated," Doug Ducker, Pan Pac managing director says.

He says the company is working as fast as it can to fix the problem.

"The adverse effects on residents have never come into consideration by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, the Health Board or Pan Pac," Mr Kohlis says.

While the Hawke's Bay Regional Council (HBRC) admits it's frustrating, that's not enough to force Pan Pac to stop operating.

"Public health and environmental risks are sufficiently low that it doesn't warrant closing the mill down," James Palmer, HBRC chief executive says.

For Mr Kohlis and his son Glen, it feels like both Pan Pac and the council are turning a blind eye.

"As long as they [Pan Pac] have that pier out there, they can plod along as long as they want. The council isn't putting any pressure on them," Glen says.


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