Climate Justice Taranaki wrong on Landfarming

Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) Chief Executive Cameron Madgwick says claims by Climate Justice Taranaki that landfarms are toxic waste disposal sites are simply wrong and have no scientific basis.

Mr Madgwick was responding to comments made by Climate Justice Taranaki to the South Taranaki District Council during a hearing on its District Plan.

Mr Madgwick says landfarming is nothing more than taking the ground-up rocks, mud and minerals left over from drilling activities and recycling them by placing them underneath the topsoil.

“While naturally occurring hydrocarbons might be found in this material, they will be in such low concentrations they pose very little risk,” says Mr Madgwick.

“A report released last year by Landcare Research found oil and gas drilling waste material is considered to pose no attributable risk to food safety or animal waste, particularly when wastes are incorporated into the shallow subsoil with topsoil.

“All the waste used for land farming are naturally occurring elements and research actually shows it can significantly improve the quality of unproductive land.

“Applying drilling waste materials onto the coastal and sandy farmland in coastal Taranaki has resulted in vast improvements to that land, which now produces high quality clover-based pastures.

“Landfarming allows rocks and minerals to be recycled to improve the productivity of some soils. It increases clay content and improves the soils ability to retain water and nutrients, and any hydrocarbons present will be broken down naturally by soil organisms.

Mr Madgwick says that given the benefits of landfarming, it is a common and accepted practice internationally to spread these left-over rocks and minerals into the soil.

“The public can be assured that the oil and gas industry takes health and safety extremely seriously and the industry is governed by strong regulation to protect the environment,” says Mr Madgwick.

“The Taranaki Regional Council has rigorous monitoring procedures in place that govern the operation of landfarms that sees regular reviewing, testing and evaluation and the Ministry of Primary Industries have put in place guidelines for food producers and processors.

“To claim landfarming is unsafe is wrong and ignores the scientific evidence that shows landfarming is safe and has many benefits,” says Mr Madgwick.