Local Community Seeks Remediation of Defunct Mercury Mine
A Northland community is asking the Northland Regional Council to fix up the old mercury mine at Puhipuhi.
The Puhipuhi Mining Action Group (PMAG) and the Ngati Hau Trust based at Whakapara say they are extremely worried about the possibility of leakage from the old mercury mine at Puhipuhi. They worry that leakage from the old mine will seep into the waterways which local people use for both personal use and farming.
In a strongly worded letter to the NRC, they say a defunct mercury mine in Puhipuhi is close to waters leading to underground aquifers which people use for personal use. There are also a number of disused and defunct gold and silver mines within the same rohe, plus a discarded roading metal quarry – "disused when it was discovered the roading material contained mercury which was found later to poison the waterways beside the roads where it was used".
The community quotes from the NRC's own water and sediment testing which was completed recently, and which was found to have “ surface water within this catchment above ANZECC guideline trigger limits for chromium, copper and zinc” and the “sediments within the Puhipuhi catchment contain mercury at levels above the ANZECC guidelines at all sites, with the site below the mine dam having the highest levels” .
They say the mining remnants have never been properly assessed for dangerous after-effects. Nor do they think the tailings dams resulting from mining have ever been monitored for leakage, stability, contamination or potential future collapse.
The community has been given access to another research study recently published NZ Journal of Geology and Geophysics 2015 which also finds "The positioning and content of the waste rock tips therefore poses a significant contamination risk"...........
Given all of this information, we believe it is time the NRC took our concerns seriously, and acted upon them, PMAG spokesperson Jenny Kirk says.
" We understand that the Ministry for the Environment has a Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund which provides $2.63 million annually to regional councils for the remediation of contaminated sites posing a risk to human health and the environment.
" We are now asking the NRC to access this fund, and to make immediate progress to getting remedial work done on the old mercury mine site, and other nearby defunct mine sites and tailling dams."