Ports of Auckland marine dumping consent granted with conditions

09 July 2019

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has granted consent to Ports of Auckland Limited to dispose of dredged sediment at an authorised dumping site.

Ports of Auckland Limited applied to dump material dredged from in and around the Port at an authorised location 15 km wide and 700-1200 metres deep. It lies 27 nautical miles (50 km) east of Cuvier Island, an uninhabited volcanic outcrop.

This location is one of five authorised dumping sites specified in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects – Discharge and Dumping) Regulations 2015. 

This location is one of five authorised dumping sites specified in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects – Discharge and Dumping) Regulations 2015. The marine dumping consent, which expires in 2054, allows Ports of Auckland Limited to dispose of up to a total cumulative capital dredge volume of 2,000,000 cubic metres (m3) at this site over the term of the consent, and a maximum of 50,000 m3 per year of maintenance dredge material. 

The EPA concluded that the potential effects may be significant within the authorised dumping site, which has historically been used as a dumping site, including for unexploded ordnance; but effects outside that site would be, at worst, minor. 

Despite this, Ports of Auckland Limited must comply with a number of conditions, which have been designed to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects of the dumping. 

These conditions include, but are not limited to: 

  • the maximum amount of material to be dumped
  • sampling of dredge sediment before it is dumped, to ensure it does not breach contamination limits, and is suitable to be dumped in the EEZ
  • certification by EPA of sampling methods and results for each sample site
  • monthly reports on dumping activity, to be published online
  • visual detection of marine mammals prior to any dumping activity occurring. 

Further information about this marine dumping consent is available below in the Questions and Answers.

Read the Ports of Auckland decision

Questions and Answers Plus

What will Ports of Auckland limited be allowed to dump?

To maintain clear water depths within the Port of Auckland to allow visiting vessels to berth safely, Ports of Auckland Ltd undertakes regular maintenance dredging of the berthing basins. Maintenance dredging is also done within the Rangitoto Navigation Channel. The company anticipates the need to carry out (new) capital dredging within the Port area, the Navigation Channel Precinct, and just outside the Precinct. This material then needs to be disposed of. This marine dumping consent allows Ports of Auckland to dump certified sediment dredged from within various Port precincts. Consent conditions for the marine dumping activity include that the applicant must sample sediment before disposal at sea to ensure it is within allowed contaminant levels. Sampling results must be certified by the EPA prior to any sediment being dumped at sea.

How much material can be dumped?

The consent conditions state that the Consent Holder shall not dump:

a) more than 50,00 cubic metres (m3) of dredged material from maintenance dredging, nor more than 400,000 m3 of dredged material from capital dredging, at the CDS (Cuvier Disposal Site)  in any consecutive 12 month period

b) more than a total volume of 2,000,000 m3 of dredged material from capital dredging at the CDS over the term of this consent.

Why is consent required for an authorised dumping site? 

A marine dumping consent is required for the disposal of waste in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone - regardless of whether the waste is to be disposed of in an authorised location.

Why does POAL need consent if Coastal Resources Limited (CRL) already has a marine consent?

The EPA recently granted a new marine dumping consent to Coastal Resources Limited (CRL) for a site previously approved by Maritime NZ. The CRL marine dumping consent was approved for a number of specific projects. It is currently subject to High Court appeal. As detailed on page 40 of the decision document, Ports of Auckland does not consider that the consent granted to CRL would provide it with any certainty that its dredging material would be able to be dumped at the CRL consented site (the Northern Disposal Area) over the next 10 years. The Ports of Auckland application for a marine dumping consent is to use a dumping site authorised as such by the EEZ Act.

Who granted this application?

The EPA is the consent authority for certain activities that are restricted within New Zealand’s EEZ and in or on the continental shelf. One of the EPA’s functions is to decide applications for a marine consent. The decision-making for non-notified marine dumping consents has been delegated by the Chief Executive of the EPA to the General Manager of the EPA’s Climate, Land and Oceans Group. 

What had to be taken into account by the decision-maker considering this application?

Applications for marine dumping consents must be determined according to the requirements of the EEZ Act. The purpose of the Act is to promote the sustainable management of the natural resources of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf; and protect the environment from pollution by regulating or prohibiting marine dumping. In making this decision, the EPA had to take into account:

  • effects on the environment and existing interests
  • rare and vulnerable ecosystems and the habitats of threatened species
  • importance of protecting biodiversity, species and ecosystems
  • the effects on human health of the dumping
  • any alternative methods of disposal of the waste
  • whether there are practical opportunities to reuse, recycle or treat the waste.

Are there alternatives to dumping the dredged sediment at the Cuvier Disposal Site (CDS)?

The EEZ Act requires the EPA to take into account any alternative methods that could be used for the disposal of the waste, and to consider any other practical opportunities available to reuse, recycle, or treat the waste or other matter. On the evidence available to the EPA, including Ports of Auckland Limited’s assessment of alternatives, it was concluded that there is presently no feasible alternative to marine dumping and no evidence of realistic alternatives to dumping at the Cuvier Disposal Site over the duration of the consent. The Cuvier Disposal Site (CDS), located in the EEZ, was designated as an ammunition dumping site in 1955. The CDS has also been used for the dumping of dredged material during the development of the inner Viaduct Basin for the Americas Cup in the late 1990s.

Why was there no public hearing for this application?

The EEZ Act controls the waste that can be disposed of in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Under the disposal and dumping regulations, certain types of waste intended to be dumped in an authorised location are classified as a non-notified discretionary activity. This is the case in the Ports of Auckland Limited marine dumping consent application. Non-notified discretionary activities are not publicly notified, and there are no submissions or public hearings.

Were iwi told of the application?

The EEZ Act requires the EPA to provide a copy of non-notified applications to specific parties. Letters were sent to 72 parties, which included links to the application, impact assessment, and supporting documents. These parties were made up of:

  • 60 Māori organisations or groups
  • three local authorities
  • three government ministries, departments and crown entities
  • six individuals having existing interests that may be affected by the application.

Can anyone appeal the decision?

This non-notified decision can only be appealed by the applicant, on points of law.