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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (The Cook Islands Times, Oct. 29) – Minister for Cook Islands Investment Corporation Tangata Vavia has confirmed that Cabinet has approved the disposal of asbestos sheeting at sea in the MV Miss Mataroa.

The MV Miss Mataroa is doomed to be scuttled at sea within our Exclusive Economic Zone on Monday. But did anyone tell the public that the government ministries have asked that huge piles of asbestos roofing be dumped along with the ship to its watery grave?

It seems that John Fallon in his dual role as harbormaster and court appointed liquidator for the doomed ship has approved the dumping of piles of asbestos on to the doomed ship.

Most of the asbestos is wrapped in black polythene, but some of it was just open to the elements with no covering of any description. This could add up to an environmental disaster about to happen.

Several months ago, an expert from one of the United Nations agencies regarding the safe disposal of asbestos visited the Cook Islands.

At the time, the relevant Minister and various departmental heads including Ministry of Works, Energy, and Physical Planning, and Cook Islands Investment Corporation, showed him the Recycle Cook Islands complex in Ngatangiia where the asbestos was being temporarily being held.

The plan as told to the visiting consultant was for the asbestos to be wrapped and then buried in a suitable watertight site.

Now the plan is to dump the asbestos into the ocean instead.

Some pundits were surprised to hear about the plans, but also that the asbestos would not be encased in concrete to prevent it from crumbling and then floating to the surface of the sea.

Do our fish exporters realize that the asbestos could be floating around in our fishing zone and possibly affecting whether our overseas fish buyers would approve of such practices?

We doubt that our buyers would be likely ask whether they can have ‘Asbestos with our tuna steaks please?’

The question is whether our export market would see this dumping on the high seas as best practice compared to other countries method of disposal of asbestos.

Apart from the asbestos dumping, the Cook Islands Times has been informed that some government ministries are planning to dump unused machinery including 2 huge cranes.

Whatever happened to the concept of crushing the scrap metal and sending it to New Zealand to be recycled and saving the planet?

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