13 June 2018

This month, the Kopeopeo Canal Remediation Project is hosting a community open day, right on time to celebrate a significant marker point in progress of the clean-up.

Project Manager Brendon Love said that the timing for the open day was ideal as the project team and contractors have been hard at work dredging for almost exactly six months. In addition, the dredge is close to crossing the state highway which will also see a relocation of the water treatment equipment to the second containment site off Keepa Road in Whakatane. 

The Project is using a cutter suction dredge to remove contaminated sediments from the Canal and transport it through a pipeline to one of two lined containment sites. From there, the sediment in the geotextile bags is dewatered and remains in the geobags within lined cells to be capped with clean soil and then bioremediated at a later stage.

“We started dredging on 22 January and have learnt a lot along the way. We are getting validation testing results from sections of the Canal behind the dredge and with exception of a few locations where we have had to repeat the dredging the results are coming back well below the dioxin remediation target. Compliance monitoring results from around the containment sites is also showing that the contaminated sediment is contained throughout the transfer process which is key requirement of the project.

“After the open day we’ll be moving much of the equipment such as the water treatment equipment and shaker screens over to the second containment site just off Keepa Road,” Mr Love said.

Containment Site 1 on Kope Drain Road (just off SH35 outside Whakatane) will be open to the public for short tours on Saturday 16 June.

“I am sure that there are quite a few members of the public out there who have driven past either the Kope Drain or Keepa Road sites and have wondered what is going on with all that machinery. So it is the perfect chance to find out! You can find out more about the open day on the website,” Mr Love said.

Dredging will continue along the Canal during the coming months and validation testing will be carried out behind each dredged section. At the end of the Project, sediment will have been removed from 5.1km the Canal, leaving the waterway in a healthier state for future generations.



The sediment quality target is below 60pg/g I-TEQ (i.e. 60 parts per trillion). More detail on what this target means and how it compares with national and international standards is available on the website.

Detailed information on the Kopeopeo Canal Remediation Project can be found at www.boprc.govt.nz/kopeopeo

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Rivers and Drainage Group) is working with the community to clean up dioxin-contaminated sediment in the Kopeopeo Canal. The canal was contaminated between the 1950s and late 1980s as a result of stormwater discharges from a former sawmill, which treated timber using Pentachlorophenol (PCP). While unknown at the time, PCP imported into New Zealand for use in the timber processing industry also included a percentage of impurities that contained dioxins.

The project is taking a staged approach to remove, safely store and treat up to 40,000m3 of sediment.

Consent was granted for works to begin in 2014, subject to significant conditions. The community raised a number of concerns about the original methodology (excavators and trucks) for removal of the sediment. Following a successful pilot study of a new method in October 2015, an application was lodged in May 2016 to vary the existing consent so that the sediment could be removed by a cutter suction dredge and transferred by pipeline to the containment sites. This new method virtually eliminates the heavy traffic and potential for spillages and associated dust generation, and brings improvements to the containment site design which reduces potential groundwater and flooding related effects. 

The variation to the consent was approved in September 2016 and a contract awarded to Envirowaste Services Ltd in December 2016 to undertake the remediation works

The project is jointly funded between Regional Council and the Ministry for the Environment’s Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund.

Kopeopeo Dredge at work