By Max Frethey - Local Democracy Reporter
One distracted driver may result in Nelson’s landfill banning a waste disposal company from using the facility.
On July 26, the driver passed all signs and indicating arrows at York Valley Landfill which directed him to the tip area because he was distracted by his cellphone.
Members of the Nelson Tasman Regional Landfill Business Unit were told on Friday by general manager regional sewerage and landfill, Nathan Clarke, that the incident was proving “difficult”.
The root of the trouble was that the company that employed the driver was not responding to the business unit’s inquiries about the incident.
“People make mistakes, and I can understand that, but the fact that we haven’t got a response, or an adequate response, in quite a long time – and that’s not through our lack of asking – that’s the significant piece here,” Clarke said.
“I don’t want to go essentially nuclear on them but at the same time we’ve got to make sure the people on the site are safe.”
Nelson councillor Mel Courtney pointed out that using a cellphone while driving is an offence on the country’s roads and that perhaps the landfill should investigate delivering penalties in the future.
As the landfill is not a private road, it’s not currently known how the business unit could enforce that rule but Clarke highlighted that the threat of not being able to use the Nelson Tasman region’s only active landfill could be enough.
“The most significant thing to any company that disposes waste is if they can’t dispose waste.
“I don’t think we’re going to go there but, at the same time, maybe we have to.
“They’ve got to be cognisant that safety is paramount,” he said.
Landfill business unit chair and Tasman’s deputy mayor Stuart Bryant asked if the planned temporary transfer facility would have reduced the likelihood of this incident occurring.
Currently, trucks are guided to different locations around the landfill’s tip face to dispose of their waste.
The landfill is working towards installing a transfer facility that would allow trucks to offload their waste in the same location every visit.
Clarke didn’t think the transfer facility would have had an impact in this instance and could even encourage complacency because the drivers would always know where to go.
However, he did add that the transfer facility would reduce the likelihood of many of the landfill’s other health and safety incidents.
“The driver behaviour thing is something we’ll have to get on top of and make sure that we are trying to maintain a safe [environment].”
The temporary transfer facility is expected to be constructed by early March.
Nelson City Council provides administration services for the landfill business unit and declined to reveal which company was involved in the incident.
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