9 Jun 2016

Oil and gas buffer puts public at risk - experts

6:58 pm on 9 June 2016

A proposed buffer zones for oil and gas installations in South Taranaki will put people's health at risk and leave them exposed to catastrophic explosions, a district plan hearing has been told.

Air quality specialist Louise Wickham.

Air quality specialist Louise Wickham. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The district council is proposing setback distances of between 150 and 300 metres around rural industries, including oil and gas installations.

Experts engaged by Energy Watch Taranaki say the proposed buffer zone is arbitrary and doesn't go far enough.

An air quality specialist, Louise Wickham, told the hearing today emissions of toxic pollutants would pose a risk within the proposed setbacks.

"I'm really coming from a public health protection background where I'm looking at trying to avoid long-term chronic health effects, things like some things that are carcinogenic."

Australian explosions expert Jenny Polich said the plan did not give adequate protection from well blow-outs.

Both women proposed a range of setbacks of up to 1 km.

District plan hearings are due to finish in July.

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