Cindy Baxter, | Fuseworks
Trans Tasman Resources’ (TTR) bid to mine 66 sqkm of the seabed in the South Taranaki Bight is so riddled with uncertainties that the EPA should decline the application, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) told the EPA hearings in Hamilton today.
In a series of two submissions, KASM pointed to a myriad of uncertainty and missing science. Meanwhile a 12-year-old girl from Raglan made a heartfelt plea to the EPA committee.
During last week’s expert hearings, KASM lawyer Duncan Currie told the EPA, TTR’s expert on how far the sediment plume – from the mining of black sand off the seabed – would stretch across the South Taranaki Bight, had said “the uncertainty of the uncertainty is uncertain.”
Dr Mark Hadfield had described the plume as being 20km long and several km across: a plume of around 100sqkm. This would, presumably, continue for 20 years.
He said TTR had admitted it was uncertain about the impact of a whole range of issues, from the plume, to the effect on the benthic ecology, to the presence of blue whales in the Bight and the effect of noise from mining on them.
He urged the EPA, in the face of scientific uncertainties, and in light of New Zealand’s obligations under national – and international law – to decline the application.
KASM Chairperson Phil McCabe’s submission was particularly critical of the way TTR had managed to avoid the EPA hearing evidence from New Zealand’s blue whales expert, Leigh Torres, who has surveyed the blue whales in the area, concluding that it’s a foraging ground for the endangered giant of the sea, one of only five in the Southern Hemisphere.
“TTR simply included a reference to her research in their overview document, but never included it as evidence, so it could not be part of the case, and they declined to call her as a witness. TTR have cleverly kept her out of the hearing,” said McCabe.
Mr Currie called for the EPA to reconsider its decision not to call Ms Torres, and pointed out that KASM expert witness Dr Liz Slooton had been very concerned at the lack of evidence of the impact on the whales and Maui’s dolphins.
Sequoia, 12, from Raglan, made her own submission.
“Creatures, some that haven’t even been discovered yet, live in every little nook and cranny, every crevice and surface – even beneath the sand on the ocean floor. They swarm through the sea in numbers that cannot be counted and some wander around like lonesome spirits. They range from microscopic organisms to the largest animal ever to live on earth.
“And I think of each and every one of these beings as an important part of my world. What if the mining is much worse than everyone thinks and harms creatures that are important to keep the ocean alive? What if the mining upsets things and they never get better again?”
“Please don’t let this happen,” she told the EPA.
KASM is calling for TTR to go back and do a lot more science to fill in the knowledge gaps on the effect of seabed mining on the marine ecology.