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Council moves to clean-up Kindergarten site

18 April 2006

Council moves to clean-up Ferndale Kindergarten site

Auckland City is moving quickly to remediate the Ferndale Kindergarten in Mt Albert after soil test results showed concentrations of heavy metals and organic chemicals.

Soil testing was undertaken at the kindergarten site at 830 New North Road after a council desktop study revealed that nearby 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 Ferndale site show elevated levels of lead and arsenic, as well as concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including benzo-a-pyrene.

A high-strength barrier mat has been placed over the entire property to prevent anyone on site from being exposed to contaminated soil. The kindergarten is now closed for the Easter school holidays.

Auckland City's Deputy Mayor, Dr Bruce Hucker, says the council's primary concern is the welfare of the children at the kindergarten.

"We are concerned that we've found elevated levels of heavy metals and organic chemicals at this site and we're doing everything possible to ensure that this area is cleaned-up and safe for the children when they return after the Easter school holidays.

"We will be having a private meeting with kindergarten parents to explain the test results to them and to help them access medical advice.

"We intend to work closely with parents and the Auckland Kindergarten Association to develop a remediation plan that suits them and their timeframe," Dr Hucker says.

The private meeting for parents will take place this week and parents have requested that media not attend.

As it has done for other childcare facilities on council-owned contaminated sites, the council will provide a grant to cover the cost of blood tests for children who currently attend Ferndale kindergarten.

Remediation works will begin at the kindergarten on 22 April. The clean-up is expected to involve the excavation of the top half-metre of soil, before a high-strength barrier mat is placed below the surface and the site is re filled with clean soil.

The site will then be completely safe for children, parents and staff to use.

The Auckland Kindergarten Association will have input into the landscaping design, which will take place after the remediation works are finished.

Meanwhile, the council has completed remediation works at the Auckland Central Playcentre. Work is nearly complete at the Barnardos Early Learning Centre and both sites will be landscaped this week.

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

ENDS

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