A site is considered to be contaminated when hazardous substances are found at significantly higher concentrations than their normal (background) levels. A background level is the level of a substance that occurs naturally within the environment.
Contaminated sites may pose a threat to both the environment and our health. They may limit land use and can also reduce land values. It is important that a contaminated site is investigated and managed to reduce any potential risk.
A number of activities may cause a site to become contaminated. The Ministry for the Environment has put together a Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) to help identify potentially contaminated sites. This is a list of 53 specific land uses that can potentially cause contamination.
Examples of sites in our region that may be contaminated include:
- Timber treatment sites
- Service Stations
- Disposal of wastes, controlled and uncontrolled
- Scrap yards
- Sheep dips
Bay of Plenty Regional Council has the responsibility, under section 15 and section 30 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to:
a) control discharges to the environment, such as a discharges from a contaminated site to soil, air, groundwater or surface water.
b) investigate land for the purposes of identifying and monitoring contaminated sites.
Where subdivision or landuse change is occurring the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (NES) may apply. Details on the NES can be found http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/hazardous/contaminated/. The NES is administered by the local Territorial Authority.
Identification of HAIL activities in the region
To fulfil our section 30 RMA function, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council is required to keep a record of past or present hazardous activities that have the potential to cause contamination.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has created a database called the Selected Land Use Register to record HAIL information. We have been working with our local territorial authorities (city and district councils) to identify and populate the register with sites that have had past or present hazardous activities located on them.
The Selected Land Use Register currently holds approximately 900 sites from across the region. These sites are divided into the following categories: Contamination Confirmed, Contamination Managed, Contamination Acceptable/ Remediated, No Identified Contamination, Verified Site History and Unverified Site History. Refer to the classification category below for further explanation.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council has an ongoing work programme to continue with identification and recording of sites where HAIL activities have been carried out.
Assessing if a site is contaminated
When it has been determined an activity has (or had) the potential to cause contamination on site, we recommend that an experienced environmental consultant is engaged to undertake a site investigation. This may involve collecting soil and groundwater samples for laboratory analysis.
If fuel storage tanks are being removed from a service station or a site where fuel has been stored you are required to complete a Notification of Tank Pull form and submit it to us by post or email email@example.com.
Once a site investigation has been completed, we recommend that the investigation report is submitted to us for assessment to determine the appropriate classification on the Land Use Register and to assess the investigation findings against our Regional Water and Land Plan. If you intend subdividing land we will require that this work is carried out.
Remediation of Contaminated Land
If soil contamination is confirmed through site investigations, there are several options to remediate the land. This may include the removal of contaminated soil and its disposal to an approved landfill. If remediation of contaminated soil is chosen, the remediation strategy should be assessed against our Regional Water and Land Plan Rules 34 & 35. This would determine if a resource consent is required to undertake the remediation works. Please also discuss the proposed remediation works with your local council to determine their consenting requirements.
To read about some of the site remediation projects we're currently working on, click the relevant link below.
Redevelopment on a Contaminated Site
If site redevelopment (such as re-contouring, excavation of soil for building footings, stormwater upgrades and underground services etc) is planned on a contaminated site, a resource consent under Rule 35 of Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Regional Water and Land Plan is required. This consent is required to authorise remediation or disturbance of contaminated land. Please contact a contaminated land specialist or the Consents Team for further advice on 0800 884 880.
Minimising the Contamination risk
- Obtain the necessary approval prior to disturbing a contaminated site
- Dispose of hazardous substances correctly
- Transport hazardous substances safely
- Apply safe practices when using and storing hazardous substances
- Report any pollution incidences to the Regional Council's Pollution Hotline on 0800 884 883
To find out if Bay of Plenty Regional Council holds any information about a HAIL activity or contamination on a specific legal parcel or site for the region, please complete a site enquiry form and submit via post or email to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
Land Information Memorandum (LIM) are available from the appropriate City and District Councils. LIM reports can provide historical land use information which is held on Council records.
Further useful information