Ask Phoebe
Phoebe Falconer answers your questions about Auckland

Ask Phoebe: Collection operators liable for fly away litter

By Phoebe Falconer


Bin truck operators risk fine for failing to look after paper waste.

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

I have noticed on several occasions that waste bin trucks are transporting full bins of paper, cardboard and the like. Often this material flies out of the bin and across the roads because there is no cover on the bin. Is covering the bins a requirement during transportation? Bob Louden, Auckland.

A spokesman for Auckland Council says the council requires licensed waste collectors to clear loose litter as part of their licence conditions. The relevant licence condition states "the licensee must collect any litter spilled from the licensee's vehicle during the collection, removal, transportation or disposal process".

Failure to look after reported loose litter from a collection vehicle can lead to a $400 litter infringement under the Litter Act, 1979.

I have been told that beneath the southern-most greens of the Epsom-Remuera Croquet Club, adjacent to Gillies Ave in Epsom, there exists a very extensive system of natural caves or tunnels. Evidently, these tunnels can be accessed through manholes in the area, and every few weeks or months, a team of workmen spends several hours doing so, using some large trucks with suction pumps.

Can you provide any further information about this natural subterranean feature, and what the periodic activity of the workmen is for?

Peter Maxwell, Epsom.

Beneath some of Auckland's volcanic areas exists naturally occurring tunnels, known as lava tubes. The tubes formed while the volcanoes were active, when the exterior of the lava flow cooled and solidified into a basalt tube, while the inside stayed hot and lava flowed through. When the volcano ceased erupting, naturally the lava stopped too and the tube emptied, leaving behind interesting geological features.

Some of these basalt tubes are used to effectively manage Auckland's stormwater. The stormwater soaks into the ground through fractures in the basalt. In some instances, where lava tubes form a large enough cavern, the tubes are used as soakage caverns - such is the case with the cavern under Melville Park. Other forms of soakage include smaller soakholes which may be manholes with deep boreholes (commonly used to drain road catchpits in these areas) or simple scoria trenches for drainage in properties.

The sediment contained in the public stormwater runoff builds up over a period of several months in the caverns, blocking the fractures. Auckland Council periodically removes the sediment to ensure the caverns operate as efficiently as possible and the risk of flooding is minimised. The cavern under Melville Park is cleaned two to three times a year by Auckland Council. Additionally, Auckland Transport undertakes similar operations on the (much smaller) nearby road soakholes and road catchpits. Like the other soakage caverns, Melville Park cavern is small and requires structural reinforcement; for safety reasons it is not accessible to the general public.

• It has been brought to my attention that orange disability parking permits are being phased out. The new permits are similar in size and appearance to credit cards, and slip into a cardboard holder. They are printed in the CCS Disability colours.

- NZ Herald

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