Rules put plant on wastewater watch

By Lawrence Gullery

Meat company Affco New Zealand's Wairoa plant has just under a year to provide a health risk assessment on the impacts of its wastewater on the Wairoa River in northern Hawke's Bay.

The report must specifically examine the microbiological risk to health and be completed by an independent water microbiologist as agreed by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which granted its consent to release contaminants into the river.

Affco will also be required to study the effects of the plant's wastewater discharge on fish in the river, to be completed by an independent scientist, within the next three years.

The ecological and health risk monitoring measures were among a raft of conditions set and released by the Environment Court this month, in a resource consent permit allowing Affco to discharge treated meat works and fellmongery wastewater into the Wairoa river.

The regional council must make sure the meat company complied with the conditions of the new permit which expires on May 31, 2025.

The revised permit was settled three years after Affco initially agreed to conditions of a consent in 2009 for its wastewater discharge but subsequently realised it could not meet them.

Mediation talks between the regional council, submitters to the resource consent application and Affco had resulted in a set of final conditions agreed upon earlier this year.

Affco will have to accurately measure and maintain daily records of the wastewater released into the river to reflect the start and finish times of each discharge, the rate of effluent discharged per hour and its volume during that period.

Within the next three months, the meat company will have to write an updated operations and management plan for its wastewater treatment system and hand it into the regional council for approval.

Regional council's principal consents officer Charlotte Drury said the council, Affco and other parties connected to the long-standing appeal had worked hard to reach an agreement on conditions which provided "an appropriate level of protection for environment".

"The Environment Court decision confirms that set of conditions. Affco's river discharge must now comply with those new conditions."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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