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Published: 2001-07-02 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has renewed consents for AFFCO to continue meat processing at its Horotiu plant.

The company applied to renew 13 consents, including for the discharge of treated meat works wastewater, stormwater and air contaminants, and for structures in the Waikato River and tributaries. Nine submissions were received from Community Health, Fish and Game New Zealand, Wahapu O Waikato, Waikato District Council, Waikato-Tainui and neighbours.

Treated wastewater and stormwater is currently discharged to the Waikato River via a diffuser and the company wanted to discharge up to 7000 cubic metres a day. In consultation with Environment Waikato it has agreed to reduce its nutrient and bacterial loads from limits set in its 1992 consent.

Intermittent discharge of filter backwash and condenser cooling water is to be stopped and diverted to the northern Gully Drain by 2002. A reduced volume of water is now required due to implementation of water reuse and waste minimisation strategies.

The company received commendation from Fish and Game New Zealand for the extent and manner of its consultation. The organisation said the plant was not having significant adverse effects on fish in the river, but it encouraged the company to continue to undertake further innovation and improvement to reduce nutrient additions to the river.

Wahapu O Waikato was concerned for the discharge of contaminants to affect the health of the river. Waikato District Council said it was satisfied that the company had achieved significant reductions in odour potential from site operations and for nutrient loads to the river, which was desirable to reduce potential phyloplankton growth in the river.

Environment Waikato Resource Officer Hugh Keane said bacterial, nutrient and suspended sediment levels were being further restricted under the recommended conditions that had been accepted by the company.

Resource Officer Barry Campbell said the number of odour complaints from the site had reduced and the company’s proposal to convert the wastewater digester pond was likely to further reduce odours. The rendering plant contrashear was a source of odours and should be enclosed.
Making its decision, the Hearing committee and Commissioner said agreement had been reached on proposed conditions and several submitters had confirmed they had no opposition to the site continuing to operate. Acknowledging the concerns of Wahapu O Waikato, the committee said the site was a major point source of nutrients to the river, and although the group was opposed on cultural grounds, it was important that Waikato-Tainui and the wider community had accepted the reduced discharge.

The committee was satisfied that the activities would not cause a significant effect on the Waikato River and air quality, and compliance with conditions would ensure that any adverse environmental effects would be no more than minor.