Thursday, 1 November 2007 3:16 PM

Asbestos Dumping Raises Concern (Cook Islands)

Minister Tangata Vavia's confirmation that Cabinet had approved the disposal of asbestos sheeting at sea has raised concerns.

Cook Islands Minister for Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), Hon. Tangata Vavia, had confirmed Cabinet's decision earlier this week, according to the Cook Islands Herald.
The asbestos is to be disposed at sea in the MV Miss Mataroa, the ship doomed to be scuttled at sea within the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

According to the report, most of the asbestos is wrapped in black polythene, but some are open to the elements with no covering. The concern is that this could add up to an environmental disaster about to happen.

In a visit by an expert from a United Nations agency regarding the safe disposal of asbestos several months ago, the plan, as told to the expert, was for the asbestos to be wrapped and then buried in a suitable water tight site. However, at present, the plan is for the asbestos to be disposed of into the ocean with no concrete encasing that would prevent it from crumbling and eventually floating to the sea surface.

Concerns have also been raised as to whether fish exporters realize that asbestos could be floating around in the country's fishing zone and whether overseas fish buyers would approve and continue to import.

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