On the 1st of November 2021, a catastrophic fire broke out at the Christchurch wastewater treatment plant and destroyed a key component of the treatment process – the trickling filters. These filters were responsible for providing secondary treatment of the wastewater through biological processes. During the fire, Environment Canterbury and other stakeholders were largely concerned with the health effects of the toxic smoke, discharges of firefighting foam and liquid, and the capacity of the remaining wastewater plant infrastructure. In the months following, the compromised treatment ability resulted in discharges of odour and contaminant exceedances in the coastal discharge. The suburbs adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant have been the most adversely affected by discharges of odour, however, at times it has been experienced across the city.
A year on from the event, we have an opportunity to reflect and share our learnings from our experience. This presentation will explore our response to the event – from the initial incident response, through to our on-going actions, compliance monitoring and collaboration with various stakeholders. These stakeholders include Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Te Whatu Ora (previously Canterbury District Health Board), air quality scientists and Christchurch City Council (CCC) staff. It will also explore how we supported CCC as they implemented their mitigation measures, made use of the s330 emergency provisions under the Resource Management Act, and established working groups between organisations to help address community, health and environmental concerns.
Kimberley has been with Environment Canterbury as a Resource Management and Incident Response Officer for nearly 3 years. After completing her Masters investigating contaminants in wastewater, she started at ECan in 2020 working as part of a novel project team investigating odour in the Bromley area. Since then, she has specialised in the monitoring of wastewater treatment plants and cleanfill/quarries, worked on a number of other projects investigating odour and dust issues, and responded to her fair share of industrial fires and oil spills.
Wednesday 7th December
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