A community group and iwi who campaigned to stop gold mining at Puhipuhi are now calling on the Government to pay for remedial work on an old mercury mine.
The Puhipuhi Mining Action Group (Pmag) and the Ngati Hau Trust based at Whakapara are concerned leakage from the old mine will seep into waterways which are drawn from for domestic and farming use.
"We understand that the Ministry for the Environment has a contaminated sites remediation fund which provides $2.63 million annually to regional councils for the remediation of contaminated sites posing a risk to human health and the environment," Pmag spokeswoman Jenny Kirk said.
"We are now asking the Northland Regional Council to access this fund, and to make immediate progress to getting remedial work done on the old mercury mine site, and other nearby defunct mine sites and tailing dams."
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In a strongly worded letter to the council, the groups point out the defunct mercury mine is close to waters leading to underground aquifers which people use for their households. The mine site is within land currently owned by the Department of Conservation.
There are also defunct gold and silver mines within the same Puhipuhi location, and a discarded roading metal quarry. The quarry was abandoned when it was discovered roading metal from it contained mercury which was found later to poison the waterways beside the roads where it was used.
Recent NRC water and sediment testing at the location was found to have surface water within this catchment above Anzecc (Australian and New Zealand water quality guidelines) trigger limits for chromium, copper and zinc.
The survey indicated sediments within the Puhipuhi catchment contain mercury above the Anzecc levels, with the site below the mine dam having the highest levels. However, the community groups are concerned the council merely received the report, with no further action planned.
Ms Kirk said the mining remnants have never been properly assessed for dangerous after-effects; nor does the group think the mine tailings have been monitored for leakage, stability, contamination or potential collapse. The NRC was approached for comment, and said it would investigate the group's concerns.