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Council acts on horticultural soil concerns

29 October 2004

Council acts on horticultural soil concerns

Auckland City will be writing letters to private property owners whose land information memorandum (LIM) is being flagged with past horticultural activity following a region-wide study initiated by Auckland Regional Council (ARC).

These letters will be sent from next week once an accurate list of properties has been confirmed.

The ARC study involved sampling 43 horticultural and agricultural sites in the Auckland region. Only one site within Auckland City’s boundaries was tested.

This study found that historic horticultural activity resulted in comparatively elevated levels of contaminants on approximately 45 per cent of the regional sites. The remainder of the sites showed acceptable levels.

When Auckland City received this report, a desk-top study was undertaken. Old aerial photos from the 1940s and 1950s were studied to identify properties that may be the site of former horticultural activity. The study resulted in a list of 1,172 properties (1,155 privately owned properties or owned by other government agencies and 17 owned by Auckland City) that may, in the past, have been used for horticultural purposes.

Waitakere City Council has also undertaken desktop research, which resulted in a list of 3,000 properties being identified. This information is already on LIMs.

Auckland City says it has a responsibility to communicate directly with property owners.

“We can appreciate people may be concerned but we do not know at this time of any private properties that have contaminants,” says John Duthie, group manager, City Planning.

“Evidence of former horticultural use does not necessarily mean the site is currently contaminated.”

The letter that will be sent to property owners will advise them what action they can take, including how they can arrange independent testing to verify whether any contamination exists.

The Mayor of Auckland, Dick Hubbard, said it is crucial that the council communicated with affected property owners in an open and transparent manner.

As a priority. Auckland City has tested the 17 council-owned parks and reserves that were identified in the desk-top study because of the high level of community use.

Five of these parks and reserves showed isolated areas of pesticide residue, consistent with regular maintenance activities such as weed control. The residues are evident in areas that are inaccessible to the public or where recreational activity is unlikely.

The five parks that had residual levels were: Mount Albert War Memorial Reserve, Mount Albert Mount Albert War Memorial Reserve showed slightly elevated levels of lead. Remediation has already been undertaken.

Orakei Sports Domain, Orakei Two sample areas in the vicinity of some old sheds have elevated levels of lead. Further soil analysis will be undertaken. The residues are evident in areas that are inaccessible to the public or where recreational activity is unlikely.

Churchill Park, Glendowie There are elevated levels of some substances in the vicinity of some former sheds. In this area, elevated levels of arsenic and lead were evident. Further soil analysis will be undertaken. The residues are evident in areas that are inaccessible to the public or where recreational activity is unlikely.

Riversdale Reserve, Avondale There are elevated levels of copper in five samples taken in the open field area. One of these samples also just exceeded the guideline for DDT. Three samples at the site of former sheds had elevated levels of copper, lead, DDT and arsenic. Further soil analysis will be undertaken. The residues are evident in areas that are inaccessible to the public or where recreational activity is unlikely.

Avondale Canal Reserve, Avondale One sample had elevated levels of lead. Further soil analysis will be undertaken. The residues are evident in areas that are inaccessible to the public or where recreational activity is unlikely.

ENDS

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