by Chris Tobin
Timaru has the worst air quality in Australasia and attempts must be made to cut electricity prices to mitigate the problem, newly elected Environment Canterbury councillor Dr Elizabeth McKenzie says.
“Polluted areas are also associated with health risks, so people are more likely to have strokes and heart attacks.”
Dr McKenzie has a PhD in forensic science and 17 years’ experience in this field as well as in biomedical science, environmental analytical chemistry and geochemistry.
“It is a tricky one because wood is cheaper than power but it’s a problem that needs sorting.
“The South Island pays a lot more for electricity than the North Island. I think we need to have high-level talks with the power companies.”
She said cutting prices could also make it better for power companies, as the number of customers was likely to increase.
“You could still have wood as a back-up.”
She was surprised coal was still being burnt in Timaru.
This year, Timaru’s Anzac Square airshed recorded 12 high-pollution nights, followed by Washdyke on 10.
In comparison, St Albans and Woolston in Christchurch each had four high-pollution nights and Waimate, Geraldine and Ashburton each had one.
Last Wednesday (October 15), Timaru’s Anzac Square airshed recorded 20mcg per cubic metre and Washdyke recorded 18mcg. The next highest were 12mcg at Woolston and 11mcg at St Albans followed by Ashburton and Rangiora on 10mcg.
Under the national environmental standards, Timaru and Waimate can have only three high-pollution days per year.
From September next year this will reduce to one high-pollution day for all airsheds.