Tiwai Point: Assessment shows significant contamination #2
Media Release #2
14 September 2022
Tiwai Point: Action underway to address smelter contamination
Environment Southland has requested specific actions of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) in response to advice that there are “numerous legacy and ongoing sources of contamination to the environment” from the Tiwai Point site.
Environment Southland chief executive Wilma Falconer said the Council is undertaking a programme of work to fully understand the contamination at Tiwai Point and its impact on the environment, and to ensure contaminants at the site are well managed.
“The NZAS report shows extensive contamination has occurred in the past and is likely to still be occurring,” she said.
A report provided by NZAS and the Environment Southland- commissioned assessment of it by EHS Support, a consultancy with international experience in decommissioning smelters, provides greater clarity on what further information, monitoring and action is required.
“We are now clearer about the actions we need take to understand the extent of the contamination at the site and to ensure historic and on-going production waste is well managed, before and when the smelter closes. “These actions will provide confidence that any impacts on the surrounding environment are being addressed.”
NZAS has been working cooperatively with the Council, providing access to the site and undertaking some improvements in housekeeping. The data that is in the NZAS-commissioned Detailed Site Investigation report is an important contribution to our work programme.
The table below outlines requests Environment Southland has made of NZAS and the progress made to date.
Provide a summary of the network of groundwater wells that exist on the Peninsula.
NZAS has an extensive network of wells on the peninsula to investigate and monitor groundwater quality and hydrogeology of the site. NZAS has lodged a consent with Environment Southland to drill an additional 45 bores to increase the network (39 new and 6 replacement bores). Following discussion with Environment Southland, NZAS has agreed to drill a further 7 monitoring wells and include these in their monitoring programme.
Drilling due to commence soon.
NZAS to extend the analytical suite of tests to help better understand the extent of contamination on site and better understand the hydrogeology of the site.
Done and included in NZAS monitoring programme
To provide updates on the status of Ouvea being stored in warehouses in Southland and Invercargill.
Progress reports on the status of the NZAS application to replace the landfill consent, which is due to expire in December 2023.
Preliminary discussions underway
In March 2022 asked to cease unauthorised discharges of contaminants to land/water relating to fluoride contamination at two areas: written proposal required in July, completion of remediation required in late September 2022.
Completed: Contamination source material now being processed at a more secure location onsite
November 2021 and June 2022 monitoring data for groundwater samples collected by GHD as a part of the assessment of contamination on the NZAS land
Undergoing quality assurance. Still to be provided
Environment Southland is also asking for current and historic data monitoring information held by NZAS that shows levels of contamination over time on land, in groundwater and in the coastal marine area.
Following consideration of the EHS assessment and discussions with NZAS, Environment Southland officially requested some key actions of the smelter.
- Prepare a waste-stream management plan that outlines how and where the various types of NZAS-generated waste is disposed of.
- Access to the site for an independent and expanded contaminant monitoring programme that includes the landfill, spent cell liner pad and coastal marine area. Currently, monitoring is undertaken by NZAS.
Wilma Falconer said “We intend to achieve confidence that operations are addressing the site’s impact on the environment, and confidence in the planned remediation of the site after closure.”
See Media Release 1: Tiwai Point: Assessment of NZAS data shows significant contamination at smelter site
For more information and links to relevant documents go to: