Protesters say landfill leachate threatens

Protesters spread themselves out along SH1, near Hill Street, on Waitangi Day.

About 20 protesters returned to State Highway 1, this time near the Hill Street intersection on Waitangi Day, to continue to voice their opposition to a proposed landfill in the Dome Valley.    

Industry giant Waste Management wants to develop the landfill on a large block of land, east of State Highway 1, between Forestry Road and the Hoteo River.

Protestor Sue Crockett said the proposed landfill was an ecological disaster waiting to happen.

She said tributaries flowed into the Hoteo River directly from the tip site with the potential to contaminate both Wellsford’s drinking water supply and the Kaipara Harbour, the country’s largest snapper breeding ground.

“Many people rely on the Kaipara for their livelihood and their family’s wellbeing,” she said.

She said protesters are sceptical of Waste Management’s assertion that the landfill will be constructed with a lining system that will prevent leachate polluting the environment through the soil or waterways.

A flyer handed out by protesters said Waste Management could not guarantee the exact lifespan of the liner and that the Dome Valley is a high rainfall area. This meant hills were prone to slipping and slips could potentially tear the landfill liner.

Ms Crockett said the whole area was prone to flooding and it would be impossible to control where contaminated water ended up.

She said responses to the protest from busy Waitangi Day traffic had been enthusiastic with plenty of toots from passing motorists, particularly young people.

“I think we have a duty of care to future generations,” she said.

The protest was organised by Fight the Tip: Tiaki Te Whenua (formerly Fight the Tip, Save the Dome), which is now an incorporated society.

About 50 people turned up to a society meeting in the Wellsford Community Centre on February 5 to devise strategies to oppose the landfill.

Several speakers reiterated their concern that leachate could not be contained.

Society committee member Michelle Carmichael accused Waste Management of trying to hide the leachate issue by leaving tributaries off a map in their brochure on the proposed landfill.   

“They are trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes saying their ain’t no waterways there,” she said.

Those attending the meeting were advised that Waste Management’s consent application will be publically notified soon. Those seeking advice on opposing the application can email:

Meanwhile, Waste Management has defended its proposed lining system.

Managing director Tom Nickels said it will be multi-layered, comprising geosynthetic clay and high-density polythene liners. The geosynthetic clay liner is expected to last more than 100 years and the high-density polythene liner has a life expectancy of up to 200 years.

“Leachate is produced for a significantly shorter period of time than the life expectancy of the various liners. It is also extracted from the landfill throughout its life and aftercare period, further reducing the risk after the landfill is completed,” he said.

He added that the landfill would be engineered to ensure structural components, such as the liner, would not be disrupted by any instability in the valley slopes.

Mr Nickels denied Waste Management had left tributaries off its landfill maps to hide the leachate risk.

“We are finalising the identification of all the rivers and streams in the surrounding area and will be including this information, as well as our strategies to protect these rivers and streams, in our consent application,” he said.   

He added the consent would be publically notified allowing anyone to have the information and provide comment.  

“We reject the claim that there is a leachate issue or that we are hiding information,” he said.

Waste Management expects to submit its consent application by the end of next month.

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