Taranaki aquifer contaminated
from a report by Robin Martin on rnz.co.nz—23 April 2021
Testing of a bore at Okato found levels of the fungicide difenoconazole at 51 parts per billion (ppb). The limits for difenoconazole in drinking water in the European Union is set at 1 ppb. Difenoconazole is a broad spectrum fungicide with novel broad-range activity used as a spray or seed treatment and acts by inhibition of demethylation during ergosterol synthesis. It is toxic to humans, mammals, birds and most aquatic organisms. Difenoconazole has a high photochemical stability and have low biodegradability making it persistent in water and will likely take decades to breakdown to safe levels.
An investigation by the regional council to find the source of the contamination was unsucessful and the aquifier was abandoned in 2016. Whether the source of difenoconazoleis in this case is due to burying unwanted barrels of chemicals as has been speculated, or not, the loss of a clean water supply for one of towns is a cause for concern for us all, and hopefully a lesson for those handling chemicals that their proper disposal is necessary to avoid far-reaching environmental problems that will be with us for years or decades to come.