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Published: 2013-03-01 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council yesterday formally ended its agreement with Thames-Coromandel District Council to help fund the investigation into remediating arsenic-contaminated land at Moanataiari in Thames.

The district council was managing the project to investigate and develop options for remediating the contaminated land, with technical and funding support from the Ministry for the Environment (50%) and the Waikato Regional Council (25%). 

Of the $820,000 budgeted, about $756,000 was spent on investigating the extent of the contamination problem and possible options for fixing it. 

The regional council heard yesterday that the project was effectively drawn to a close on 5 December last year when the project’s governance group adopted a district council remediation option. That option was based largely on an awareness programme, with the provision of safe soil for people to grow vegetables, and assistance to help property owners cover material in some affected areas. 

The regional council and Ministry for the Environment representatives on the governance group voted against this option for several reasons. 

They said the decision was premature and based on incomplete information because it did not take into account the health risks associated with properties that had the highest level of contamination. 

Both the regional council and the ministry say the district council’s chosen option may not provide people in that community with the best long-term health protection. 

During yesterday’s council meeting, Thames-Coromandel constituency councillor Simon Friar said he was disappointed that the district council had chosen to abruptly end the project without completing a detailed action plan to manage the risks. 

However, as the project was set up to investigate remedial options and that decision had been made, the project had been completed. 

Waikato Regional Council will help the district council and individual property owners if they want to apply to the Ministry for the Environment’s contaminated sites remediation fund.