I researched the other possible contaminants on the internet, DDT, Lindane and the associated group of chemicals used by the agriculture industry had all been banned in NZ by the Government in the early 1960’s after a shipment of beef to the US had been rejected due to contamination.
The story of what happened in the 1960’s reads like yet another horror novel!
The Government offered to buy the toxic substances back from the farmers, over 500 tons of DDT, Lindane and other organochlorine based substances were collected, one of the major areas of collection was Kerikeri since it was one of the largest fruit growing areas in New Zealand at that time. The initial plan was to spray the collected chemicals onto the bush, diluting them over a vast area but it appears the farmers had not kept them well and the storage set up by the Government was poor so that by the time the spraying program began much of the 500 tons collected had turned into solid bricks of material rather than sprayable powder. Large amounts of it was taken out into the designated bush disposal areas, large holes dug and the chemicals buried. A couple of years later an unbelievable event took place, all the records of dump locations and details of what was sprayed were lost, simultaneously all over NZ! This covering up of such actions seems to be a common thread in New Zealand life.
In the 1990’s an investigation into what had happened took place, the report contents relating to Northland by Lowe Pearce and Associates report of June 1994 details the events, images show the state of some of the collected material and the areas where spraying was going to take place. I copy the relevant parts of the report below.
I wrote to the Land Registry (LINZ) and they confirmed that Killara, pink on the map below, was part of Block AG was part of the Kapiro block. It had been cleared of bush and developed by the Government into farmland, initially leased to farmer, Noel Hodge, who later bought it. He then subdivided the land selling off sections, one of which become the land on which Killara was built.
It doesn’t really matter, uncontrolled amounts of Lead Arsenate had been sprayed on our land, the chemicals use had NZ Government approval and that happened after the Government itself had used our site as a toxic waste dump in the 1960’s destroying the records shortly afterwards.
We went to see a top firm of Auckland lawyers who had offered to help on a ‘pro bono’, free basis. They said we had a strong case against Ian Knox, the estate agent who sold the house to us, clearly knowing it was on contaminated land without disclosing the fact to us and we should also look at a case against the NZ Government, they had advertised NZ as 100% Pure with NO POLLUTION in material they sent to us and we showed to the lawyers. They had polluted the land and allowed known toxins to be used on it, then approved the subdivision plans without warning buyers that this had occurred on the Land Information Memorandum (LIM) for the property.
A New Zealand Government site, New Zealand Now, in 2011 proclaimed that New Zealand had no pollution. Remarkably the site still makes the same claims.
One result of all this was a visit by the technician from SGS, he had read the publicity and wanted to assist us on a personal basis. He pointed out that the levels of contamination in the soil were very low, the soil was itself being very strange material. Volcanic in origin, it was a mix of large chunks of glass like material, inert and harmless with a small amount of very fine dust, a talc like, highly absorbent material created by the glass grinding any material that landed on it as it moved due to climatic or physical conditions. It was this dust that contained the toxins and levels in the dust were patchy but in places were very high indeed.
Arsenic is only dangerous if you ingest it, the dust blew onto the roof where it was washed into the tanks and then we drank it, ingesting the toxin into our bodies. People do not eat soil in volume so that in itself wasn’t an issue.
He suggested that remediation really only required a new source for our drinking water. It made perfect sense, he located the old bore site, took several soil samples from around it since that area was probably used to fill the spray equipment with Lead Arsenate and if the main contamination area could be found it would reduce the issue significantly.
We have always wondered if our legal cases were related to the fire, they were clumsy and I think the lawyers would have found ways around them but the publicity would have been highly damaging to the Estate Agents and New Zealand.
We had no option but to terminate both cases after the fire since all the evidence we had collected was destroyed, both sets of lawyers agreed to terminate without any request for costs. Ian Knox died shortly after the fire on 5 October 2011 due to a heart attack whilst driving his car.
Get the latest news on the BLOG