West Coast residents want councils' assurance nearby landfill isn't giving off 'toxic gases'

Te Tai Poutini/West Coast residents are demanding reassurance from the region's councils that a nearby landfill - Taylorville Resource Park - is not posing a health risk.
Te Tai Poutini/West Coast residents are demanding reassurance from the region's councils that a nearby landfill - Taylorville Resource Park - is not posing a health risk. Photo credit: Samuel Mann.


West Coast residents are demanding reassurances that a nearby landfill is not posing a health risk.

Last week, a person was rescued in a critical condition from a pit at Taylorville Resource Park near Greymouth after they were overcome by fumes. The incident was being investigated by WorkSafe.

On Tuesday, a letter from residents was read out at a West Coast Regional Council meeting, raising concerns about asbestos-contaminated waste, offensive odours, and the potential risk to drinking water.

Resident Adrian Van Dorp told councillors they wanted answers.

"Every other day I have to deal with the smell and the noise, but mainly the smell. But we've seen that it has transpired it is toxic and it's in a cloud of invisible poison that drifts over all of our properties."

The letter had been signed by 20 affected residents who said they wanted reassurance from West Coast Regional Council and Grey District Council that the operations were not posing any risk to their health and wellbeing, and to find out how the councils planned to mitigate any risks.

"We are apprehensive about letting our children outside to play, opening windows or doors to our homes for fresh air, putting our pets outside or even undertaking any of our usual outdoor activities such as gardening etc, as we are worried about breathing toxic gases or being exposed to any other dangerous materials in the air."

West Coast Regional Council chairperson Peter Haddock said he understood their concerns and had spoken to the landfill's operator about the letter.

"They advised me that they haven't done any asbestos there for quite some time."

He confirmed there was an abatement notice on the site until 18 August.

"I've been talking to the operators. Their plan was to try and cover up some of that exposed material, stop the odour. But they're stuck in a process at the moment where it's shut down because of the WorkSafe investigation."

The council and landfill operator were more than happy to meet with residents, he said.

The council was reviewing its consent process for the landfill.

Acting Consents and Compliance manager Rachel Clark said some work had been done in this space which showed assessments undertaken were not as thorough as they should have been.

"It has been concluded that there wasn't strong enough information around where the landfill was going to end up from where it started so we could have had a lot more technical information along the way."

The review would look into further technical reports, she said.

"We'll have a look at conditions that exist and look at tightening them up so that they're more enforceable and we can look at what happens with the site in the long term."

The council was not aware of any current discharges into water, but Clark said there had been issues previously.

"So any, discharge to air beyond that date (the abatement notice date) or any discharges to water would instigate more action from us which is likely to be that they will be told they can't operate until they've remediated those issues so they've either got consents in place for the discharges that they shouldn't be doing or they've stopped the discharges."