Fonterra's fracked milk | The Jackal

19 Jun 2013

Fonterra's fracked milk

Today, the Taranaki Daily News reported:

Dairy giant Fonterra will not collect milk from any new landfarms.

Taranaki has a number of landfarms where oil and gas drilling waste is stored in pits and then spread over paddocks.

The practice has attracted critics who claim the landfarms may contain toxins in the soil that could have an effect on the milk produced by cows that graze on the grass.

May contain? Does contain more like. Not only does fracking waste contain a number of highly toxic chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer, it also contains Radium 226, often well above safe levels.

The fact that this hazardous practice was allowed to occur in New Zealand at all is astounding!

Fonterra already accepts milk from six farms but has said no more will be taken on, Radio New Zealand reported this morning.

Thankfully Fonterra have finally realised that accepting milk from any new landfarms will be detrimental to their clean and green image, something the dairy industry relies heavily upon for much of its profits from overseas markets.

Let's hope they also decide to stop accepting milk from the existing six landfarms. With most countries not having a bar of it, surely having any contaminated milk product because of landfarming will be detrimental to Fonterra's bottom line.

The company said the cost of testing the milk is too expensive at about $80,000 per year, and the need to have a public perception of a safe clean dairy industry was also taken into consideration.

Pity it's just a perception, not a reality. With Fonterra being associated with the Chinese melamine scandal in 2008 and growth hormone scandal in 2010 plus the more recent contamination from soil-treatment product DCD found in 371 New Zealand milk samples, a safe and clean dairy industry is clearly not happening.

Unfortunately milk produced in New Zealand isn't being tested for Radium 226 at all. Fonterra is talking about testing for other toxins and Cesium 137, which is a requirement by most of our main overseas markets. With the milk and farms themselves not being tested for Radium 226, there can be no real assurance that consumer’s health isn't being put at risk.

The Taranaki Regional Council says landfarming is safe and has no environmental effect except to improve coastal sandy soils for productive farming.

But they admit there is limited information to inform their decisions.

There's no scientific information to show that landfarming "improves coastal sandy soils" or is in fact safe, and a number of reports from overseas that show it isn't safe and has adversely affected people's health. That's why many countries have moved to ban the practice outright.

Being that the Taranaki Regional Council consists mainly of people associated with the oil and gas industry, we should be sceptical about anything they claim.

In my opinion, any potential threat to people's health through contaminated milk products should be eliminated, and therefore landfarming and likewise fracking in general should be halted forthwith. The potential adverse affects clearly don’t outweigh the benefits.

Fracking waste leaching from BTW's Browns Road landfarm in Taranaki - June 2013.