INDEPENDENT NEWS

Dump Waste Management - CAFCA

Published: Mon 18 Oct 1999 11:12 AM
CAFCA fully supports the concerns expressed by Canterbury Regional Councillor, Sir Kerry Burke, about the joint venture between Canterbury councils and US garbage transnational, Waste Management, to run the new regional landfill. He said: "The business interests of multinational waste companies have intruded into the consideration by local government of the best environmental and economic interests of citizens" (Press, 11/10/99). He also hit the nail on the head by saying that Waste Management "heavied" the Christchurch City Council in 1995 by legally objecting to the extension of the Burwood landfill and subsequently securing an agreement that it would be part of a joint venture to run the new landfill. Four years ago, leading City Councillors very emphatically rejected this clumsy approach. Cr David Close said then it was "inappropriate for a private investor to be `making the running' over the city's future landfill needs" (Press, 16/3/95). The now Mayor, Cr Garry Moore said: "I believe that we are being subjected to the threat of litigation to get a commercial advantage. Anyone who threatens a city council with that should be told to go to hell" (Christchurch Star, 22/3/95). What happened to change their minds?
Waste Management's American parent company has a spectacular record of transgressions in the US. As recently as July 1999, leading executives and directors were the subject of allegations of insider trading and securities fraud. Between 1980 and 1992, it paid more than $US80 million in fines, penalties and settlements in criminal and civil cases in the US. In a more recent court case (December 1996) a federal judge in Tennessee ordered it to pay more than $US90 million. He said: "...fraud, misrepresentation and dishonesty apparently became part of the operating culture of the Defendant company". American local governments are very wary of it: in 1992 the San Diego District Attorney concluded: "...the company's history requires extreme caution by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors or any other governmental entity contemplating any contractual or business relationship with Waste Management..." It has fallen foul of the "Good Character" laws of some American states, giving them the right to refuse licences and permits to companies that have a history of violating the law. When Indiana refused a permit to a subsidiary, a legal official remarked that the state "would have to grant a permit to Satan before they could grant a permit to this outfit" (Indianapolis Star, 14/6/97).
Sir Kerry Burke has performed an invaluable public service by raising major concerns about the relationship between the City Council and Waste Management. CAFCA urges the Council, and other Canterbury local bodies, to cut all ties with this disreputable transnational before it is too late.
ends

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