Upton on Mapua

I have not followed the fiasco as closely as I should, but Simon Upton does the job in the Dom Post yesterday:

I’ve just read the report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s investigation into the contaminated site clean-up. It is a short report – just 49 pages of widely spaced text. But it is a bombshell. It would be hard to imagine a more comprehensive indictment of a central government agency.

Hmmn, I must find this report. A quick Google and here it is.

The ministry appears to have had no understanding of appropriate roles and responsibilities and no technical competence to perform the role it took upon itself.

Maybe the Environment Ministry was too busy purging its ranks of anyone who had a boyfriend who works for John Key?

The problem was not confined to environmental management. The commissioner, Jan Wright, has felt compelled to write to her colleague the auditor- general inviting him to investigate some of the contractual failings she uncovered. The list of shortcomings is breathtaking.

So is anyone being held responsible for these?

As a result, the plant almost certainly pumped toxins into the environment but because of flaws in the way monitoring of the project was set up, we will never know what or how much harm was caused, though the community was almost certainly exposed to dioxins.

Meanwhile, groundwater contamination exceeded thresholds for more than three years. According to the commissioner, the ministry took no effective action to address the discharges despite requests from all those charged with monitoring the process.

And this is not the nasty private sector, but the Government’s own Environment Ministry!

The ministry helped design a sophisticated set of accountabilities and monitoring processes which it promptly flouted, having turned itself into the principal operator. Not surprisingly, the local council had difficulties treating the ministry – which was funding the project and at the top of the statutory hierarchy – like any other resource applicant.

Indeed. One reason why policy and operations are often best in seperate agencies.

Ministers have every reason to be very angry with the way in which the project was handled. How can any of us have any confidence in the ministry’s ability to protect the environment when its own performance has been so woeful? The ministry’s new chief executive, Paul Reynolds – who is in no way responsible for this toxic legacy – should no time in completely reviewing the roles and accountabilities of those around him and see to it that he gets some technically literate people on board fast.

I thought the Ministry’s main job was to produce propoganda for the PM’s Office on how NZ is going to be the first carbon neutral nation on Earth. This is far more important than actually protecting the environment!

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