9 Jun 2009

Dioxin contamination fixed, says council

9:11 pm on 9 June 2009

Taranaki Regional Council says it has done all it can to deal with dioxin found at a park in New Plymouth

Earthworks at Marfell Park have uncovered nine corroded drums and soil is contaminated with the dioxin TCDD. One sample shows contamination at three parts per million.

The council says the worst of six samples tested comprised almost half toxic agrichemicals and half soil.

Council spokesperson Gary Bedford says one of the six tested samples showed high levels of dioxin, but the extent of contamination seemed to be small.

Mr Bedford says 140 cubic metres of soil have been removed as a precaution, and the site is not dangerous now.

He says tetrachlorobenzene and trichlorophenol were ingredients used at the former Ivon Watkins Dow chemical plant at nearby Paritutu. The drums held waste from the plant.

However, dioxin campaigner Andrew Gibbs says the levels of dioxin found in the park are the highest ever detected in New Zealand.

Mr Gibbs says such levels are shocking. He has spoken to people who as children played in drums at the dump before it was turned into sports fields.

He says the levels are three thousand times what would normally trigger a massive cleanup, and the site needs to be well secured immediately.

A second round of test results from samples of stormwater and leechate is imminent.

Meanwhile, a man who lives next to the park says neighbours are angry at the secrecy surrounding the contamination.

Mark Smith, who lives alongside the park with his six children, saw the excavation and said it was like something from a science fiction movie.

Mr Smith says neighbours are organising a community meeting for Wednesday or Thursday.