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Kopeopeo Canal Contamination Remediation Project

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Technical Services group is working with the community to clean up dioxin-contaminated sediment in the Kopeopeo Canal. The contamination is a legacy issue that is associated with discharges from a former sawmill. 

The overall vision for the Kopeopeo Canal Remediation Project is:

”To safely remove and treat a legacy of industrial dioxin pollution, thereby restoring the mauri of the Kopeopeo Canal and the Whakatāne River and developing their full potential to contribute to the well-being of tangata whenua, the community and visitors for generations to come.”

Current project activity:

 canal from canoe


The recent flooding has not had a direct impact on the Kopeopeo Canal. The Canal filled but did not overtop its banks and the flow was slow along the length so we are confident that the sediment hasn’t been moved from the channel.

There may be minor delays in the construction of Containment Site 1 (all taking place in non-contaminated soil) while we wait for ground conditions to be suitable for construction equipment. But we don’t expect these to be significant. Some Project staff have been diverted to help with the flooding situation and we are all thinking of all the people who have lost their homes and property during these floods.

The next CLG meeting will be held on 16 May 2017 from 10am. Please email to register your interest in attending.

Our morning blessing on 14 February 2017

 Kopeopeo blessing with Koro Tutua

A recent vegetation survey

 Vegetation survey Feb 2017

Background Information

The project is designed to be implemented in a staged approach to remove, safely store and bioremediate up to 40,000m3 of sediment. Map showing sites (8,313 KB). Three separate sites are consented for the containment and bioremediation of sediment removed from the canal. 

The Kopeopeo Canal Remediation Project’s primary objectives are to address long-term health risk to the community associated with dioxin exposure, improve the quality of the aquatic habitat within the canal and wider drainage network and facilitate future drainage and flood relief within the Rangitaiki drainage scheme.  The current phase of the project follows almost 10 years of investigations, risk assessments, technical assessments and remediation options evaluations.

The consents granted for the project require the applicant to implement a significant number of control measures to mitigate potential effects and  undertake a rigorous monitoring regime to ensure that the control measures are performing adequately.  

Technological developments, which might better address concerns raised by community members about the methodology proposed to clean up the canal, led to an evaluation of an alternative extraction and transfer method to move sediment between the canal and the containment sites. A trial of the proposed method took place in late 2015, and a public open day was had many people through to see the dredging in action. Results of the trial proved very positive and feedback from the community indicated that the new methodology was the preferred option. A variation to the existing consents is being sought to allow the works to proceed in the 2016 construction season. 

The estimated cost of the project is $10.8 million and is equally funded by the Ministry for the Environment through the Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund (CSRF) and Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Technical Services Group is managing the project in partnership with representatives from the Whakatāne-Waimana Rivers Scheme Liaison Group, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Sawmill Workers against Poisons and the Ministry for the Environment.