Contaminated Land

The past use and storage of hazardous substances have left a legacy of soil contamination throughout New Zealand.

This contamination has been largely caused by historic practices in which chemicals were manufactured, used, stored and disposed of in ways that are considered unacceptable by today’s standards. Contaminated sites are often associated with industrial activities, but commercial, agricultural and residential land uses or activities can also result in contamination.

Our HAIL Database

The Otago Regional Council maintains a HAIL database (Hazardous Activities and Industries List), of properties where information is held regarding current or past land uses that have the potential to contaminate land.  Land uses that have the potential to contaminate land are outlined in the Ministry for the Environment’s Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL).  

Hazardous substances were not always used or stored on all sites occupied by each activity or industry. However, such activities and industries are more likely to use or store hazardous substances and therefore there is a greater probability of site contamination occurring.

Click on the link below to use the map to see where we have site information in Otago. It's important to note that this map shows all sites that have been investigated, that doesn't mean these sites are all contaminated and if we don’t hold information on a site that doesn’t mean it isn’t contaminated.

To make an enquiry about a specific property or piece of land please email contaminated.land@orc.govt.nz quoting the HAIL number as displayed in the map.

Use the natural hazards database

 

How to use this map

  1. Carefully read the disclaimer.
  2. Select this icon in the top left:  
  3. Type the street address into the search bar.
  4. Select the correct address from the dropdown menu.
  5. The option to look at the HAIL investigated sites or bore records within the distance chosen on the slider below the address bar will be displayed.
  6. Select a HAIL investigated site or bore record and take note of the HAIL number or bore record number if you are asking for further information from our team.
  1. Carefully read the disclaimer.
  2. Use the left mouse button to click and drag the map around until you find the intended site.
  3. Select this icon in the top left:
  4. Select this icon: when it has been selected it will turn dark like this:
  5. Left click on your chosen site to set the location.
  6. The option to look at the HAIL investigated sites or bore records within the distance chosen on the slider below the address bar will be displayed.
  7. Select a HAIL investigated site or bore record and take note of the HAIL number or bore record number if you are asking for further information from our team.

   

Disclaimer

The database is continually under development and should not be regarded as a complete record of all properties in Otago. The absence of available information does not necessarily mean that the property is uncontaminated; rather no information exists on the database. You may also wish to examine the property file at the relevant City or District Council to check if there is any evidence that activities occurring on the HAIL have taken place.

  

Identification of Contaminated Land

Contaminants in the soil can cause adverse effects on both human health and the environment through both short-term and long-term exposure. The value of land and its potential for rural, residential, or recreational uses can also be reduced. The migration of contaminants may result in contamination of other land, sediment, air, groundwater or surface water, both at the source of contamination and at locations remote from the source.

It is, therefore, necessary to identify, prioritise, investigate, and remediate or manage any land in Otago where such adverse effects occur.

The Otago Regional Council maintains a database of properties where information is held regarding current or past land-uses that have the potential to contaminated land. Land-uses that have the potential to contaminate land are outlined in the Ministry for the Environment’s Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL).  

Hazardous substances were not always used or stored on all sites occupied by each activity or industry. However, such activities and industries are more likely to use or store hazardous substances and therefore there is a greater probability of site contamination occurring.

Where an investigation has been completed, results have been compared to relevant soil guideline values.

      

Rules

Chapter 5 of the Regional Plan: Waste (Waste Plan) contains the regional rules and policies for contaminated sites. A resource consent from us is needed if you want to disturb a contaminated site or discharge hazardous waste onto or into land that may end up in a waterway.

A contaminated site is defined in the Waste Plan as: “a site at which hazardous substances occur at concentrations above background levels and where assessment indicates it poses, or is likely to pose an immediate or long-term hazard to human health or the environment.”

There are two parts of this definition which must be met for it to apply. The first being that there are some sites in Otago with naturally occurring levels of substances that may exceed soil guideline values (indicating a hazard to human health or the environment). However, these sites are not defined as contaminated sites under our Waste Plan because the substance doesn’t also occur at concentrations above background element levels.

Naturally occurring background element concentrations can be difficult to accurately determine, given the amount of development that has happened in NZ. Industry (discharges of contaminants), farming (fertiliser application), and even runoff from roads (heavy metals) can all effect the concentrations measured in soils today. Background concentrations can be determined by sampling other nearby “clean” sites to determine what an acceptable level in soil should be.

Substance levels over the soil guideline values tell us that there may be a hazard to human health or the environment. In some cases, it can be difficult if the contamination status of a site isn’t known.  We recommend that to be safe you get a consent if there is any suspicion that the site may be contaminated (based on known spillages or past sampling etc). 

If our investigation does indicate that the site is contaminated, then the consent holder is protected in terms of any compliance action.  If it is known that the site is contaminated, then consent is required from us before any site disturbance.

Any disturbance of a contaminated site that is beyond minimal will require a consent to comply with rule 5.6.1 of the Waste Plan. 

In general, very small-scale disturbance through activities such as sampling surface soils and hand drill sampling would be considered minimal. Larger scale works such as excavation, earthworks, test-pitting using an excavator or installing monitoring wells will require a consent. 

Consent is also required, under this rule, for those wanting to drill a contaminated site. This could be to determine whether a site is contaminated or if it is known to be contaminated, to drill holes to install permanent or temporary monitoring wells for soil or groundwater or if somebody is wanting to drill a bore within a contaminated site.

A discharge to air may also be required depending on the works, particularly if there are no dust or odour control measures in place (when needed). This should be outlined clearly in an application. 

If you are unsure if you would require resource consent, please contact public.enquiries@orc.govt.nz

 

National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (NES) vs Regional Plan: Waste

The NES is administered by city and district councils. It creates a nationally consistent set of planning controls around the disturbance, subdivision, and land use change of potentially contaminated land. For more information see the Ministry for the Environment’s website or contact your city or district council planning team.

The NES applies when assessing and managing the actual or potential negative effects of contaminants in soil on human health from the following activities on land which an activity on the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) is being, has been or is more likely than not to have been undertaken :

  • subdivision
  • land use change
  • soil disturbance
  • soil sampling
  • removal of fuel storage systems

Some activities are allowed; otherwise a resource consent for a controlled, restricted or discretionary activity is necessary. How this is decided depends on risk factors.

The NES states in Regulation 4 that it does not affect regional council functions. Therefore, even if a resource consent is required under the NES, from a city or district council, a regional resource consent may also be necessary for the same activity if required by section 15 of the RMA or a relevant Regional Plan. The table below describes when regional or district consents are required:

 

Site meets HAIL site definition only

Site meets HAIL site definition plus Waste Plan ‘contaminated site’ definition

Meets 8(3) of the NES

No consent required

Regional council consent required

Does note meet clause 8(3) of the NES

District council consent required

Both regional council and district council consent required

    
HAIL site definition -  Land uses that have the potential to contaminate land are outlined in the Ministry for the Environment’s Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL).

Contaminated site definition - a site at which hazardous substances occur at concentrations above background levels and where assessment indicates it poses, or is likely to pose an immediate or long-term hazard to human health or the environment.

If you are unsure if you would require resource consent, please contact public.enquiries@orc.govt.nz

    

Environmental Guidelines

Policy 5.4.4 of the Waste Plan seeks to apply the ANZECC guidelines for assessing and managing contaminated sites.  However, since the Waste Plan became operative, these guidelines are largely superseded by a series of guideline documents published by MfE in 2001, called the Contaminated Land Management Guidelines.

Contaminated site management can be broadly classified into the following reporting stages:

  • Stage 1 - Preliminary site inspection (PSI) report  
    • This is often referred to as a desktop study because it does not usually involve sampling and analysis. The main objectives of a PSI is to gather information about a piece of land to determine if it may be potentially contaminated.
  • Stage 2 - Detailed site inspection report
    • Further investigation, which includes soil sampling and analysis within areas of concern identified by stage 1.
  • Stage 3 - Site remedial action plan
    • Documenting the remediation (actions taken to stop or reverse environmental effects) and management strategy to mitigate the risk posed by contaminants
  • Stage 4 - Site validation report
    • This demonstrates that objectives in the remedial action plan have been achieved and documents the site’s mitigation status following remedial action.
  • Stage 5 - Ongoing monitoring and management plan
    • If contamination remains, how will it be monitored and managed.

    

Asbestos

Asbestos has the potential to harm human health and its disturbance could result in a discharge to air. The management and removal of asbestos is subject to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) and Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 as well as potentially needing a consent under our Waste Plan.

      

Choosing a contaminated land consultant

Disclaimer: Otago Regional Council has prepared this information to help businesses and individuals select a contaminated land consultant for contaminated site investigations and remediation. Otago Regional Council has prepared this information in good faith exercising all reasonable care and attention, but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made and Otago Regional Council expressly disclaims any such representation or warranty that might be deemed to have been given, as to the relevance, accuracy, completeness, exhaustiveness, currency, suitability, reliability or fitness for purpose of this information in respect of any particular user’s circumstances. Otago Regional Council reserves its right to make changes to this information at any time.

A contaminated land consultant needs to be selected carefully. Potentially contaminated and contaminated sites usually have a wide range of issues that require a range of technical expertise. Not all environmental consultants are suitably qualified to undertake all types of site assessment and investigation work.

There can be considerable time, economic and legal implications if a site investigation and/or remediation works do not meet the appropriate environmental, planning and reporting standards. Poor quality contaminated site reports usually result in further work at an additional cost and create delays in obtaining resource consents. You can save time and money by selecting the consultant who is most appropriate for your needs and ensuring the service they provide is fit for purpose from the outset. Like all things, the cheapest price may not necessarily obtain the best result.

Please note that we cannot recommend specific consultants, but the following information might help you choose the best service for your needs.

     

Where to find contaminated land consultants

The simplest place to start looking for a contaminated land consultant is under ‘Environmental Consultants’ in the Yellow pages or by conducting a simple internet search. The list of available consultants is extensive, but not all of the consultants will have relevant experience or qualifications in contaminated site assessment and remediation. Contact people or businesses you know who have engaged a contaminated land consultant in the past and ask whether they can share their experience or make a recommendation.

 

Selecting a contaminated land consultant

It is important to all parties that you have a clear definition of what you want them to achieve (e.g. are you conducting due diligence; confirming whether it’s safe to consume home grown vegetables; or trying to satisfy NES requirements for a subdivision proposal). Gather as much background information as you can about the site regarding historical activities, potential contamination and previous practices. The better the background information and specific end goals you can provide, the more accurate the quotes are likely to be.

If you are undertaking a site investigation as a requirement of the NES for contaminated land; you need to ensure that the consultant you select can be considered a ‘Suitably Qualified and Experienced Practitioner’ (SQEP). There is a contaminated land industry accreditation scheme (similar to certified engineers) available to New Zealand consultants called Certified Environmental Practitioner (Contaminated Land Specialist). Your city or district council may use its discretion to consider consultants without this accreditation ‘SQEPs’, but it is worth checking with them before you make a final decision.

You might like to consider asking prospective consultant(s) the following questions:

  • Do you have Certified Environmental Practitioner (CEnvP) accreditation?
  • Who will be working on my project? Do they have relevant skills and experience?
  • Does the company have prior experience with similar sites and similar project purposes (e.g. meeting regulatory requirements)?
  • Does the company hold sufficient public liability and professional indemnity insurance?
  • Is the company familiar with the local legislation (NES, District Plan, Regional Plan?) and national best practice guidelines?
  • Has your company worked with local government previously, and have experience with their expectations?
  • What are your health and safety procedures?
  • What is the breakdown of costs, and what might be potential additional costs?
  • How long will the project take, including any field work, laboratory analysis, report writing and review?

 

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