27 Oct 2011

50 million litres of milk dumped

7:15 pm on 27 October 2011

Fonterra says 20 million litres of milk have gone down the drain on Thursday because of the lack of gas caused by the leak in the Maui pipeline.

The dairy co-operative's general manager of milk supply, Steve Murphy, says that is an improvement on Wednesday's 30 million litres and the figure should be down to five million on Friday.

Mr Murphy says Fonterra briefly reopened its Te Rapa plant on Thursday morning but had to shut it down again when Vector rang to say there wasn't enough gas.

Neither the Maungaturoto plant in Northland nor the Morrinsville plant in Waikato is operating, and Fonterra's Tip Top ice cream factory in Auckland also remains shut.

That has forced some farmers in Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Northland to dump milk again on Thursday, because Fonterra wasn't able to collect it.

Robin Barkla, who farms near Whakatane, says he dumped 15,500 litres of milk on Wednesday - one day's or two milkings' worth - and he reckons that is likely to have been the case with most dairy farmers in the region.

Tatua back in production

The Tatua plant in Waikato is back in production but chief executive Paul McGilvary says the gas supply is still restricted, so Tatua is keeping open the option of having some of its milk processed by the Open Country and Miraka companies, which helped it on Wednesday.

Miraka's plant in Mokai, northwest of Taupo, is powered by geothermal steam, while Open Country's main processing plant in Waikato is coal-fired.

Meanwhile, the AFFCO meat processing plant at Horotiu, which has been closed since Tuesday, is still out of action. Operations director Rowan Ogg says it may be two or three more days before it can reopen.

Northland farmers face second day of dumping

Northland farmers are facing a second day of dumping milk, as the processing plants at Maungaturoto and Kauri remain closed.

One farmer representative is calling for a second gas line to be installed so milk dumping on this scale doesn't happen again.

Northland Federated Farmers dairy chair Ashley Cullen says farmers north of the Auckland harbour bridge will be trying to find tanks and pasture to dump another day's worth of milk.

He says his farm near Maungaturoto is at the end of the gas line and so will be the last to get gas, which could be another two or three days. He says he has dumped 4000 litres so far.