A company that recently pulled out of an East Coast oil exploration project is now responsible for one of the largest spills in North American history according to the Green Party candidate for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.
Apache Corp. has spilled an estimated 60,000 barrels - or 9.5 million litres - of produced water from a pipeline in northwestern Alberta.
Research by Avner Vengosh, a Professor from Duke University who visited East Coast communities last year has found that produced water, also called oilfield brine, contains elevated levels of salt, some heavy metals and radioactive isotopes.
Green Party candidate Marama Davidson visited the drilling site near Dannevirke that Apache Corp. financed and is speaking at a public meeting at the offices of Rangitane iwi on Tuesday evening with Green MP Gareth Hughes and affected locals.
"Local farmers and residents are very worried and so they should be. New Zealand has very little regulation around this kind of drilling and what happens to the toxic waste coming out of the well" said Ms Davidson.
"With nine million litres of this stuff spilt, it is going to reach waterways and there is no way the industry or government can guarantee a similar 'accident' is avoided here" said Ms Davidson.
"We see the tension between farmers and oil men growing in Taranaki, we see the litany of breached consents, lax though they are, and the rural families of Hawkes Bay and Gisborne should be able to stop it if they think the risk is too high" said Ms Davidson
Ngati Parakiore spokesperson Henare Kani says he is opposed to the drilling for the very reasons that have happened in the case involving Apache in Canada last week.
"We were warned by the tangata whenua of Canada that there are no effective standards of practice nor effective safety procedures for oil drilling onshore or offshore and that is not being fully appreciated. I am encouraging Rangitane hapu members and any others who are guardians of our environment to attend the meeting on Tuesday night" said Mr Kani.
Ms Davidson said Māori need strengthened powers under the Resource Management Act to veto drilling plans if the hapū decide it drilling is unacceptable in their rohe.
"Councils have to take into account the views of hapū, but can still decide to proceed with a consent, hapū have Treaty rights to retain taonga that are not being upheld at present.
For further information please contact:
Marama Davidson, Green Party candidate, 021 025 88302
Henare Kani, Ngati Parakiore spokesperson, 022 611 0855
Jack Tautokai McDonald, Communications Assistant, 027 759 1680 / jack [dot] mcdonald [at] greens [dot] org [dot] nz (jack [dot] mcdonald [at] greens [dot] org [dot] nz)
Authorised by Metiria Turei, Parliament Buildings, Wellington