A message from Mervyn Chetty, Auckland Council General Manager, Licensing & Regulatory Compliance.
Since this morning, Auckland Council’s compliance response and environmental health officers have been on site throughout the day. They are working alongside Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire and Emergency) and taking direction from their officers.
Our role is to assess the potential environmental and health risks and to provide relevant advice and information where necessary.
Certain activities require consent to authorise the use of land and discharge of contaminants to land and/or water, and air subject to compliance with conditions. Their activity status is based on the risk associated with the type of industry and scale at which they operate.
Sites with scrap metal range from moderate to high risk. This does not permit discharges but informs the levels of controls required.
Typically scrap metal yards (and industrial and trade activities in general) require documentation, often called an Environmental Management Plan (EMP), that sets out the procedures they have, to avoid or mitigate their environmental risk. Often, and especially the case for scrap metal facilities, this also includes the need for treatment devices to be installed and operated to ensure discharges from the activity are at an acceptable level.
Scrap yards serve a purpose; however, site owners must take their responsibilities seriously, around storing, stockpiling and managing this material.
Compliance monitoring follows sites reporting to the council on any changes made to site, discharge sampling and reporting of results and maintenance and improvement works undertaken. This information is submitted to the council’s Regulatory Compliance team and the site is visited and assessed. For high-risk sites, these visits are made annually.
In a fire such as this one, Auckland Council will work with partner agencies such as Fire and Emergency and the site itself to review procedures that may have led to the cause.
Following the previous incident in 2018, the council continues to work with the site to ensure improved onsite practices and compliance with all relevant authorisations. This included updated authorisations relating to industrial and trade activities and an ongoing programme of works for upgrading the site and its activities.
Fires at industrial sites, like the one today, are concerning to us and we will continue to work with Fire and Emergency, partner agencies as well as the site as the response unfolds.
In due course, our focus will move to any procedures we need to review that may have led to the cause. Currently, our priority remains on the response, supporting Fire and Emergency on the ground.
Visit Auckland Regional Public Health Service for public health advice, including what to do if you live in an area affected by smoke and have respiratory concerns.