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‘Groundbreaking’ change

Draft bylaw prohibiting mortuary waste discharge to go out for consultation

TRAIL-blazing, innovative, groundbreaking are all terms Gisborne district councillors used when adopting the draft trade waste bylaw for public consultation at their first meeting of the year last week.

The positive comments refer to the proposed prohibiting discharging the mortuary waste into Gisborne’s wastewater system and regulating the transport of such waste to a council-approved facility.

Councillor Larry Foster said Gisborne was the first council to separate mortuary waste from wastewater in the “ground-breaking policy”.

Other councils were “looking at what we’re doing, applauding our actions and looking at following suit”.

Deputy Mayor Josh Wharehinga said the public often asked why the council was the first to be doing certain things.

He felt proud for Gisborne to be the first council to prohibit the discharge of mortuary waste into the public wastewater system.

Councillors were doing exactly what they had been elected to do.

There had been a robust process resulting in bringing “ground-breaking, innovative, trail-blazing things to this table”.

Several councillors thanked the Wastewater Management Group, council staff and the KIWA Group (Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa, Rongowhakaata iwi, Ngai Tamanuhiri iwi, Te Aitanga a Mahaki iwi, Ngati Oneone hapu and council) for their work on the draft policy.

Replying to a query from Cr Pat Seymour, director of community lifelines David Wilson said $20,000 had currently been spent from the allocated capital funding of $257,000 to remove mortuary waste from the wastewater system.

The $20,000 had been spent on design work and preparing for the required resource consent.

Replying to Cr Bill Burdett, Mr Wilson said that if mortuary waste was not removed, council would likely be challenged in the consenting process, and there would be an impact on future consents for the wastewater plant.

Cr Meredith Akuhata-Brown said she expected “push back” from some constituents in “understanding the cultural manner of this paper”.

Were council staff prepared for that?

Council senior policy adviser Chris Gilmour said such issues had not been raised during the engagement process of formulating the draft policy.

He did not want to pre-empt community sentiment but “I think it’s an initiative whose time has come”.

Other proposed changes in the draft policy are —

• Industry Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) above 400g/m3 concentrations will be classified as a discretionary waste and subject to a trade waste consent and conditions.

• Liquid pharmaceutical wastes above certain concentrations will be classified as a discretionary waste.

• Halogenated aliphatic compounds above concentrations of 1g/m³ will be classified as a discretionary waste.

Public consultation will be held from now to April 5.

Submissions can be made to www.gdc.got.nz or PO Box 747, Gisborne 4040, or delivered in person to the council.

A hearing for oral submissions is scheduled for May 19.

The council will make a final decision on June 24.