ECan ignores calls from health and environment NGOs

Published: Thu 25 Jul 2019 03:03 PM
ECan ignores calls from health and environment NGOs to address toxic nitrate levels
Environment Canterbury is taking dangerous risks with human and environment health by failing to take action on the toxic levels of nitrates in fresh water.
The Chief Executive of Environment Canterbury has rejected calls from environment and health NGOs to apply a precautionary approach to managing dangerous nitrate levels in Canterbury’s freshwater. Read the full letter to ECan and the response here.
Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague, and Public Health Association Chief Executive Dr Prudence Stone, wrote a letter to Environment Canterbury asking for urgent action to reduce the levels of nitrates going into groundwater and waterways.
But the response from ECan’s Bill Bayfield rejects the evidence of dangers to human health, claiming more research is needed, and passes the buck to Ministry of Health to update drinking water standards.
“I’m very disappointed by the response from Bill Bayfield and ECan,” says Forest & Bird freshwater advocate Annabeth Cohen.
“They’re refusing to show leadership on meaningfully reducing nitrates in fresh water, which we know pose a risk to human health at lower levels than currently exist in much of Canterbury’s groundwater.”
Nitrates can enter groundwater, lakes, and rivers thorough the excessive application of fertilisers and through ammonia in animal waste. Irrigation systems can add to the problem.
In their letter, Mr Hague and Dr Stone call on Environment Canterbury to make urgent plans to stop allowing dairy farming intensification, cut cow numbers, and reduce fertiliser use in catchments with high nitrate levels.
“There is now a mountain of evidence that excess nitrates put us at greater risk of illnesses such as colon cancer, rectal cancer, thyroid disease, blue baby syndrome, and neural tube defects in utero,” Ms Cohen says.
“By refusing to apply a precautionary approach, ECan is taking a risk with people’s health. The fresh water environment in Canterbury is past the point of crisis and we are potentially heading for a disaster in human health. ECan is wasting time and dodging responsibility rather than taking meaningful and urgent action.”
High levels of nitrates cause algal blooms that make water unsafe for swimming and are harmful to our already stressed native fish populations, Ms Cohen says.
The Government’s draft regulations for fresh water are due out for consultation in August. Forest & Bird is asking the Government to stop land use intensification and to set tighter limits for water quality, especially nitrates.
“The current regulations draw the line at toxicity, but this isn’t good enough,” Ms Cohen says.
“We need our national standards to protect people’s health and the health of our environment.”
Read the full letter to ECan and the response here.

Next in New Zealand politics

Statement From Police Commissioner Mike Bush Following Guilty Pleas In Operation Deans Prosecution
By: New Zealand Police
Nation Steps Up To COVID-19 Alert Level 2
By: New Zealand Government
Cabinet Approves Business Continuity Package In Response To COVID-19
By: New Zealand Government
Record transport investment in Draft GPS 2021
By: New Zealand Government
On The Loss Of Abortion Safe Zones
By: Gordon Campbell
On The Oil Price Smackdown, And On National’s Fatuous Crusade Against Red Tape
By: Gordon Campbell
Predator Free 2050 Strategy - Expert Reaction
By: Science Media Centre
Land, Air And Sea: Regions To Benefit From NZ Upgrade
By: New Zealand Government
Statement On Guilty Plea Of March 15 Terrorist
By: New Zealand Government
Christchurch mosque attacks: Gunman pleads guilty to all charges
PM on mosque attacks anniversary: 'A year on gives us a chance as a nation to reflect'
Dunne Speaks: Nothing Much Has Changed Since March 15
By: Peter Dunne
Statement On Guilty Plea
By: Royal Commission of Inquiry into Attack on ChCh
Guilty Plea By Accused In Christchurch Mosque Attacks
By: Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand
Life In Prison Looms For Australia's Christchurch Gunman, Now NZ's First Convicted Terrorist
By: The Conversation
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media