This week I climbed under a bridge just south of the city on State Highway 1 to explore a stream bed where local roading project offcuts containing asphalt and tar appeared to have been thrown over the bridge and into the stream below.
We have recently seen the discovery of multiple sites in Northland where household rubbish has been dumped with no consideration at all for the environment.
Is it any different then, if the state dumps rubbish into the environment? I say NO.
A constituent had contacted me regarding general roading issues which affected his property alongside State Highway 1.
When I visited him, he also told me his concerns about roading offcuts he had found in a stream under a bridge adjacent to his property.
This is an area that, in his own time, he tries to keep neat and tidy.
It was late at night four weeks ago that the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) completed a number of 30cm wide expansion strips on the small bridge over the stream to allow the road to expand and contract in summer.
He was concerned a few days later, at low tide, to find many pieces of roading offcuts directly under the dropline of the bridge. It was as if they had simply been brushed off and into the stream below.
At low tide, we climbed down the bank, through the mangroves and across the mud flat to the area beneath the bridge and he was right.
Lying on the bank and in the mud were many cleanly cut slabs of roading, some still bearing fluorescent paint markings.
All in all, there were at least 20 slabs of roading, some were the size of an A4 piece of paper and 10-15cm thick, while others were smaller.
Nearly all of the slabs were directly under the dropline on either side of the ridge as if they could only have come from the bridge above.
At low tide the stream was 1.8m wide and too deep to see the bottom and so we could not ascertain if slabs of the road were also in the bottom of the stream. The stream itself journeys 1km before entering the harbour.
The roading offcuts themselves contain tar and bitumen – petrol-based hydrocarbons that are clearly harmful to the environment.
I can't tell if the roading offcuts were from the expansion slots of four weeks ago, or a previous roading project, but what I do know is that it is completely unacceptable to simply sweep hazardous material like this off a bridge and into the stream below hoping no one finds it.
In that respect this is no different to household dumping except the state is the dumper and the same if not higher standards need to apply as should the consequences.
At best this is lazy workmanship and at worst it is environmental vandalism.
I notified Northland Regional Council and they responded, meeting me on site. They will remedy what they can and also chase accountability.
Here is my point. We need infrastructure in Northland and whoever worked on the road did a good job of the road. Well done. Whoever threw the tar and bitumen slabs off the bridge and into the stream – you did a poor job.
Shame on you! Finding the balance between infrastructure and a sustainable environment is a balance for all growing areas and Northland also needs to address that balance.
NZTA did not wish to comment.
For video footage of the site visit Dr Shane Reti's MP Facebook page.