Lead additive (TML/ aTEL) use at Marsden Point

Yesterday allegations were laid at our door by Radio NZ's Checkpoint programme about practices in the 60's and 70's, relating to the handling of lead additive for gasoline, the disposal (dumping) of lead sludge on site and the effect on the health of a former employee.

We are certain that any reference to dumping is land-farming where tank sludge was mixed with soil and lime to remediate it, a process that remains a consented process under the RMA today. Lead content at this land farm, at 33 parts per million (ppm) is well below the national standard for safe recreational use (880 ppm). When last measured in 1995 the result was so low and leaded activity ceased, so no further monitoring of that land farm took place in later years.

Task specific PPE (including breathing masks) was worn for the handling of lead additive, and we also know from long-serving employees that its use was rigorously followed. Staff also received regular medical checks for lead.

We are of course deeply empathetic with this former employee who is suffering from cancer. However, while recognized as toxic the Chemwatch Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), states that there is no identified causal link between lead and cancer. This is based on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) finding that TML is "not classifiable as carcinogenic".