Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice zone’

from KASM (Kiwis Against Sand Mining) website

Last Wednesday was a busy day for me with oral submissions to New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) on sand mining and to the Health Select Committee on water fluoridation. The EPA is considering a renewed application by mining company Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) to dig up 50 million tonnes of seabed yearly in a 66 sq. km section of the South Taranaki Bight – for 35 years. The EPA refused the company a consent in 2014. TTR has now re-applied.
 

MY SUBMISSION

I am speaking to oppose this consent because I believe that coastal residents who will be negatively impacted by this project should have the final say whether it goes ahead or not. The likely environmental impacts – based on numerous studies in other regions on the effect of dredging and deep sea mining will cause wide ranging damage to deep sea plants and animals (ranging from microscopic to large marine mammals).

Killing the microscopic animals in the food chain has been shown to significantly reduce fish stocks and bird an mammal populations. In prior studies, the recovery period after sand mining was as long as 3-10 years. And none of these prior projects were anywhere near as extensive as TTR is proposing.

Computer Modeling Isn’t Proof

We also don’t see how some computer modelling done tens of thousands of miles away in London that somehow “proves” TTR’s proposal will cause no environmental damage. Surely if TTR were serious about investigating potential environmental harm, they would making more of an effort to study the marine life that already lives in the area they propose to mine instead of sending sediment samples to London for computer modelling. How can they possible predict the likely response of deep sea organisms when they haven’t made an effort to identify and count what’s already there?

With some of our marine mammals – including the Maui dolphin, the blue whale and the blue penguin – already seriously threatened, this major disruption in their food supply has the potential to wipe them out altogether.

Potential Major Harm to Fishing and Tourism

Taranaki’s fishing industry is already in deep trouble with declining fish stocks and the major environmental impact of sand mining also pose a major threat to tourism, which is now Tarankai’s primary industry. People come to Taranaki for surfing and recreational fishing, which are also threatened by sand mining, and for the pristine environment of our coast and beaches.

The people of Taranaki are fed up with being a sacrifice zone for the oil and gas industry, which in my view explains why the vast majority of submissions oppose this proposal. We’re fed up with having our livelihoods, health and quality of life sacrificed to increase the profits of offshore corporations.

Getting Stuck with the Final Clean-Up Bill

There are also major concerns over who will fix the environmental damage when this project finishes – or fails. With the drop in the price of oil, we see numerous oil companies pulling out of Taranaki – leaving us to clean up the environmental risk. With the current glut in the global price of steel – due to major stockpiles in China – we see ourselves in a similar situation in 35 years time when the mining for iron sands either ends or fails.

Lack of Transparency

We also have a problem with TTR’s overall lack of transparency around this application. It appears the real value of this permit is the fact that it’s locked in for a guaranteed period of time – irrespective of future governments who impose stricter environmental regulation. It’s our firm belief that TTR has no intention of exercising the permit themselves. That their main agenda is to obtain the permit and then to sell it on to the highest bidder – not for the iron sands themselves which can’t be sold profitably in the current market – but for the rare earth minerals (which they mention in their application) which have the potential to be far more lucrative.

Like many other locals, I have major problems with any process that allows multinational corporations, to have precedence over democratic efforts of local people to protect themselves against projects such as this one that allow overseas companies to reap all the profit while forcing local residents to bear all the costs.

 

 

 

 

black sand

New Plymouth is the largest metropolitan area in Taranaki, a region that is world renowned for its pristine black sands and fantastic fishing and surfing. The sands are black due to a large concentration of iron and believe it or not, an Australian company wants to come in and dig up the seabeds to mine for iron to sell to China. And our current National government wants to give them a $15 million research and development grant to help them do it.

Taranaki submitted more than 4,000 written submission opposing seabed mining, and some of us followed up with an oral submission. The New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency held hearings in New Plymouth today. This was my oral submission:

I’m a 10 year resident of Taranaki and a naturalised New Zealand citizen. I’m also a taxpayer and a ratepayer.* I’m here today because I’m really worried about the effect seabed sand mining will have on my community. Especially after watching the destructive effect caused by the explosion of fracking wells across our region.

The people of Taranaki have been fighting seabed mining for nearly a decade. The coalition opposing seabed mining makes for some pretty unlikely bedfellows and includes environmentalists and sustainability advocates, surfers, commercial fishermen, tourism operators and ratepayers.

We are all concerned about the negative environmental consequences I mention in my written submission. We are concerned that Trans Tasman Resources have no proven track record with this type of operation. Because the technology being proposed has never been done anywhere in the world, there is no certainty over short and long term impacts. And we’re fed up with being used as guinea pigs by foreign corporations.

Many people in Taranaki worry that their livelihoods will be affected by sand mining, especially fishermen, surfers and tourism operators. One thing we know for sure is that the sediment plume created by sand mining will negatively impact microplankton that are vital to the food chain for all marine life.

Surfers – surfing is a business in Taranaki and not just a recreational pursuit – are concerned that seabed mining will alter the architecture of Taranaki’s renowned wave swells that are important tourist attraction.

Ratepayers are tired of foreign corporations promising us that they will bring new jobs and wealth to our community. But once they set up operation we find out that the jobs are temporary jobs that are mostly taken by people from somewhere else and all the wealth ends up overseas or in Auckland. And the community as a whole ends up poorer, as we lose our small businesses, our property values plummet and our rates increase to pay for the new infrastructure we have to build to accommodate overseas corporations.

There is a very strong environmental community in Taranaki which is very concerned about two endangered species resident off our coast: the Maui Dolphin and the Blue Whale. These two species are on the verge of being wiped out. Disrupting the food chain that supports them could be the event that tips them over.

We’re also really tired of being a sacrifice zone at the mercy of foreign loot and pollute corporations.

We believe it’s wrong to ask us to sacrifice our small businesses and quality of life to foreign corporations. And we have absolutely no confidence in foreign corporations regulating themselves. We’ve already been through that scenario with the negative affect on our farming community. You wake up one morning discover that your well water has been contaminated or your kids are getting sick from the constant noise or fumes and find that you can’t get insurance on your land and you can’t sell it.

You go to your district and regional council for help and suddenly you discover there’s no regulatory regime to monitor these foreign corporations. And no one to make them assume liability for any damage they cause.

Unlike other industrialized countries, in New Zealand foreign corporations are left to regulate themselves and people victimized by them are out of luck. Groups such as Kiwis Against Seabed Mining are denied funding to get expert advice to scrutinize and oppose TTR’s application under the New Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Act, while the National Government promises TTR a $15 million research and development grant if the project goes ahead.

We feel there’s something terribly wrong with the government’s priorities. They should be supporting healthy vibrant local economies and not foreign corporations at the expense of New Zealand residents.

*In New Zealand property taxes are referred to as “rates.”

 

photo credit: mpeacey via photopin cc