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Update Regarding City Housing Contamination Issues

Update Regarding City Housing Contamination Issues

In November last year, nine of the Council's 113 housing complexes were identified for soil testing. This followed investigations to its Lyn Christie Place Housing Complex, which revealed that some contaminants were present.

Out of the nine identified for testing, the preliminary soil test results of six housing complexes (Sandilands, Capt Thomas Courts, Avonheath Courts, Louisson Courts, Walsall St and Shoreham) showed some contamination present and that further testing is required. The preliminary results of the three remaining complexes showed them clear of contamination (Weaver Courts, Angus Courts and Hennessey Courts).

Contaminants present in the six housing complexes include heavy metals (lead, copper, mercury) and/or arsenic, and/or PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)

Dr Mel Brieseman, of Crown Public Health, advised at a Council-convened meeting with Sandilands tenants and some private property owners in the area on 13 December, that preliminary results so far indicate that the only immediate concern relates to results of tests conducted at the Sandilands complex, where there may be risk (particularly to children under 5 years old) from elevated levels of lead and/or copper in the soil.

Since the meeting on 13 December, children from two houses in the Sandilands area have undergone blood tests. Dr Mel Brieseman has advised that results of the blood tests have shown that the children, who currently live there, are not at risk from their exposure to the levels (copper and/or lead) in the soil on their section. He also advised that adults in the two households would similarly be at no risk from these elements.

As a precautionary measure, at least until a more complete assessment of the situation has been made, tenants at Sandilands have been advised to cease growing and eating vegetables grown on the complex, and to wear gloves when gardening. This advice was also given to tenants at the abovementioned meeting on 13 December.

Similar advice, to cease growing and eating vegetables on the housing complex site and to wear gloves when gardening, until a more complete assessment of the situation has been made, was also given to tenants at Captain Thomas Courts, where slightly elevated levels of PAHS had been found in the preliminary tests (at levels lower than Lyn Christie Place).

In the remaining four complexes which require further testing (Avonheath Courts, Louisson Courts, Walsall St and Shoreham), tenants have been advised to carry on with life as usual until a more complete assessment of the situation has been made.

Rob Dally, Property Manager at the Christchurch City Council, said that the Council remains committed to ensuring that tenants have a healthy and safe living environment, and still intends to carrying out a series of further tests at the six identified sites, to provide a more accurate profile of each property and to identify what (if any) action is required.

Mr Dally said that he has assured tenants that the Council is committed to ensuring their well-being, and to taking action as soon as possible to resolve all matters which arise following the investigations.

"In dealing with contamination of land, including ex-landfill properties, in Christchurch, the Council is addressing a very complex matter. We are working as quickly as possible to identify what the many issues are, and to develop a process to work through them", said Mr Dally.

Release ends

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