Abattoir gets all clear on dumping waste in river

In a remarkable decision that runs against what the public wants, a company has been granted a resource consent to discharge waste down a river.

he controversial decision to allow an abattoir to dump their waste in a Christchurch river, is being met with disgust.

ECAN’s independent commissioners have allowed Silver Fern Farms a five year emergency consent – with stringent terms and conditions.

The commissioners say they gave little weight to a petition bearing thousands of signatures against the move, because expert evidence shows the effect would be ‘no more than minor.’

Despite impassioned protests from locals and a lengthy hearing process, they’re now able to dump waste into the Waimakariri River when the Bromley sewage plant’s being fixed.

The appeal process runs until 10th.

A river is a community asset, and it shouldn’t be used by a single company to discharge waste.  That’s what we used to do.  We’re all about cleaning up our waterways and improving the quality of our environment.

One of the people involved in trying to get this consent withdrawn told me some interesting information:  

Hi Cam,

The decision is out – Silver Fern Farms can use the Waimak river to dump waste if required. It came out on the 20th with the right of appeal closing on 10 January. Nicely timed over the Christmas break making it hard work to lodge an appeal. This time frame is concerning.

SFF are just another business trying to get a job done. Unfortunately that often clouds good social and moral judgement. None of their hearing material indicated a loss of jobs, more a loss of profit if their waste and storm water reaches capacity.

Yes a lot of your commenters are correct. The waste is treated. The waste is minimal. However it is still industrial waste – you can’t drink it without getting very sick (I’d dare a SFF rep to try). It is still going to be dumped into an iconic NZ river. They do not know nor can they predict how many days this will occur.

There will be a sign up saying ‘ Warning industrial waste discharged here’ that is going to be great for the tourism industry. There is no requirement to directly notify surfers, fisherman and other river users and the like when it occurs, they could very well get a small sip of the waste on the outgoing or a returning tide. No one can say for sure this won’t happen.

There is to be no compensation to other river users – what about some money in a river trust for future river improvements?

The consent allows for treated waste with up to 1000 cpu/100ml of E Coli. Check out the national water standard for E Coli :

“540 – 1,000 You shouldn’t swim in it, but you can wade in it with less than a 5% chance of infection”

Is this OK to be putting into our rivers in any quantity? Christchurch does have a massive water pollution problem.

Do we really need more?

The whole concept of letting one company negatively affect the water quality of a river just so that they can make more profit is abhorrent.  On that basis, everyone else can justify dumping their waste somewhere.

Councils and businesses (including farmers) need to stop treating our rivers as open sewers to fill with their muck just so they can avoid additional cost to their business.  They are spreading an operational cost by making the public wear it.

This has to stop.


– Jenny Woods, Newstalk ZB.  Daniel Abel.

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.