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Results of Sandilands soil testing announced

4 March 2005

The results of soil testing at 93 Sandilands properties have been released to residents by the Christchurch City Council, with an explanation of what they mean.

Sixty eight of the properties have been found to meet acceptable standards; 13 are being recommended for further investigation; and only 12 are recommended for remedial work, according to the Council’s Environmental Effects team leader Klaus Prusas.

“Now that all the properties have been tested, it is very pleasing to find that so many meet acceptable standards,” he said.

Council officers will now meet and discuss the details of any remediation work with individual property owners. The Council will then apply to the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) for funding assistance to carry out the work. “Property owners will need to give consent for their properties to be remediated, ” Mr Prusas said.

Independent analysts used MfE guidelines as well as other international information in determining the standards to be set in interpreting the results.  The reason some properties are being recommended for further study arises from debate about the level of arsenic that is acceptable in household soils.  Arsenic occurs naturally in soil.

“The benchmarks proposed by the Council were that every property be safe for families, young and old, and that residents be able to confidently eat homegrown vegetables,” Mr Prusas said.  “To be sure that these have been met, we are taking a very cautious approach and doing more tests on some of the samples, relating to the arsenic content,” he said.

Testing of the privately owned Sandilands properties, which are on a former landfill site, was commissioned by the Christchurch City Council last year, following an invitation to property owners to have their land tested for contaminants.  The Council had previously remediated seven Council owned sites and tested an initial six private properties.

“Information on property files (LIMs) will be changed to reflect the results of the testing and again if the land has been remediated,” Mr Prusas said.

Last year’s testing of the Sandilands properties cost $150,000 of which $60,000 was funded by the MfE from its Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund and $90,000 by the Council. The cost of the next stage in the process will not be known until the Council has talked to effected property owners.

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