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Test results for Onehunga Playcentre

12 April 2006

Council receives test results for Onehunga Playcentre

Auckland City has received preliminary soil test results for the Onehunga Playcentre which show elevated levels of lead.

Soil testing was undertaken at the playcentre site in Onehunga after a council desktop study revealed that its historical land use meant it could possibly be contaminated.

It is one of nine council-owned childcare facility sites where soil testing has been carried out to determine whether land is contaminated or not.

The test results from the Onehunga site show concentrations of lead and slightly increased levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including benzo-a-pyrene.

Auckland City's Deputy Mayor, Dr Bruce Hucker, says the council has once again moved quickly to protect the welfare of children.

A high-strength barrier mat has been placed over the entire site so that no one on the property is exposed to contaminated soil. The children are currently attending day care elsewhere.

"The children are our top priority, so we have moved quickly because exposure to elevated levels of heavy metals can be a concern for young children's health.

"We will be having a private meeting with the playcentre parents to explain these test results to them and to help them access medical advice," Dr Hucker says.

The meeting will take place at the Oranga Community Centre this evening. Parents have requested that media not attend.

The council has offered to pay for blood tests for children who currently attend the playcentre to determine whether any have higher than normal levels of lead in their systems.

Auckland City plans to remediate the entire site as soon as possible by removing the top half-metre of soil, laying down a high-strength barrier mat and then re-filling the site with clean soil.

The property will then be fully landscaped and will be completely safe for children, parents and staff to use.

Meanwhile, the council has begun work to remediate two other childcare facilities in Freeman's Bay. Work began at the Auckland Central Playcentre today and will start at the Barnardos Early Learning Centre on Good Friday.

The council is still waiting for test results from three other childcare facility sites.


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