Remaining trash at Turangi site to be buried

Monday October 20, 2014 Written by Published in Environment
The former recycling site in Turangi, pictured here earlier this month. 14101725 The former recycling site in Turangi, pictured here earlier this month. 14101725

The last remaining piles of garbage at the former recycling site in Turangi are expected to be buried underground, clearing the way for possible new uses of the land.

Project Officer Fred Hosking with Infrastructure Cook Islands has been overseeing the site’s clean-up, and said much of the recyclable material has already been cleared off the property, however, with no other options available,  the remaining piles of trash must remain.
“The simple answer is we’ll have to take away what we can, and cover what we can’t,” he said last Friday. “There’s no other avenue, it has to stay on the land.”
The remaining material includes sheet iron, bits of timber, vegetation, paper, and pieces of foam - possibly from car seats, he said.
“It’s all mixed together,” said Hosking, adding he believes no toxic materials remain at the site.
In all, he is expecting six tonnes of material to be buried.
Hosking ruled out moving the material to Rarotonga’s Arorangi landfill site, and said
financial issues would prevent the shipping of the waste overseas.
Increased activity at the site has been reported by village residents, over the past few weeks.
One resident expressed concern about the activity, saying it appeared that additional trash was being dumped and buried – contrary to the original plans to clear the site.
Vavia Tangatataia, Manager for the Advisory and Compliance Division for National Environment Service (NES), acknowledged a complaint was received by his office earlier this month regarding dumping.
“Our understanding is that RCI (Recycling Cook Islands) and General Transport is under contract with ICI in cleaning the whole place up,” wrote Tangatataia.
He said the companies are to remove all rubbish and recyclables, with no dumping and burial of waste on site.
Tangatataia said he met up with John Wichman of RCI earlier in the month, and said he wasn’t aware of any new dumping and burying of rubbish.
The land - an eyesore and source of contention for residents and government - is believed to be owned by Pa Marie Ariki and leased to Dave Brown.
Last year, CI News reported Brown had evicted his tenants who ran the recycling operation in 2011. One year later, General Transport were contracted by Brown to clean up the site, and a number of cars were removed from the area. 
Since then, Hosking estimates between 50-60 cars and approximately 20 trucks have been removed, along with motors and wiring.
When he first visited the site, Hosking said he immediately noticed an issue with the amount of mosquitoes. By covering the remaining trash, he hopes to have that problem solved.
“It’s a sorry mess, especially for those who live around there,” he said.
Reflecting back, he said levies should be added to the purchase price of vehicles to cover the expense of having them exported and recycled once they are no longer useful.
Such a scheme would have prevented the need for the dump and the resulting clean-up issues, he said.
“I certainly wouldn’t have allowed dumping like that,” he said.
Hosking isn’t sure what the long-term plans are for the site, however, he said he has suggested to the landowner to plant coconut trees to make the land productive.

3 comments

  • Comment Link Matt Thursday, 30 October 2014 11:19 posted by Matt

    It is vital rubbish is not buried. All rubbish contains toxins even if deemed non-toxic. Once in the water table you cannot get it back. This is an island paradise - a cliche, I think not. Best kept that way, at all costs.

  • Comment Link Natalie Marra Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:11 posted by Natalie Marra

    Having just returned from Rarotonga and thinking how beautiful and clean it was looking, and how much pride everyone was taking in looking after their land, It is really disturbing to read this article and realise that the cost of this will be paid in years to come when the toxins from this buried rubbish seep into the lagoons poisoning the water and killing the water life. This is a high price to pay, I'm sure far higher than the cost of removal from the island now.

  • Comment Link Ruth Horton Wednesday, 29 October 2014 06:33 posted by Ruth Horton

    THIS SITE IS FULL OF TOXIC WASTE, they could have removed more very easily they have taken the lazy way out. They fail to mention it is right on top of the water table so it will all leach into the lagoon immediately. The government is failing to prevent large scale pollution of our island.

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