Landfill causes more damage 'beyond repair'

MARTY SHARPE
HAWKE'S BAY REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2012
Brian Bennett
MARTY SHARPE/Fairfax NZ

UNDULATING LAND: Brian Bennett at a property he owns in Kennedy Rd, Napier. It is one of those lying above a former landfill and affected by slumping.

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As demolition starts on a house affected by slumping on an old Napier landfill, another resident has come forward after a garage on his property was deemed damaged beyond repair.

Brian Bennett owns the house at 307 Kennedy Rd, one of about 125 properties lying above a landfill that was used by Napier City Council in Onekawa until the 1950s.

Over the 20 years Mr Bennett has owned the property he has seen concrete seal on the back of the section crack and subside. He says the slumping has caused the property's sewerage pipes to crack or block four times in the past few years and recently builders told him his garage was so badly damaged by slumping that it needed to be knocked down.

"My tenants are saying, `You rented the house with a garage,' and I don't want to pull the garage down right at this point. It's wrecked due to the subsidence, not any fault of mine," Mr Bennett said.

"It was the council's landfill, so I really think they are responsible."

Mr Bennett said it had cost about $1800 to fix the sewerage drains over the years, but he had done a lot of the work himself.

The house is on leasehold land owned by Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Soil sampling of the property by the regional council in 2010 found waste material at a depth of 30cm, but contaminants were not at a level dangerous to health.

A regional council staff member inspected the property on Friday, but the council is not planning to take any action at this stage.

Demolition of another affected house on regional council leasehold land began on Tuesday.

The council bought the house from its owner in January, saying it felt it had an "ethical duty" to do so after the house became badly damaged due to slumping.

Tests above the former landfill in 2009 found high levels of contaminants in the soil above the landfill, and a cap that had been put in place to cover it was non-existent in places.

A year ago the city council said it would do tests to determine the extent of the landfill. These tests have been completed but Napier City Council chief executive officer Neil Taylor could not say when the results would be released.

Mr Taylor would not comment on Mr Bennett's situation.

The council has previously said it will wait until the report is completed before seeking advice on any liability it may have to landowners.

Contact Marty Sharpe
Hawke's Bay reporter
Email: marty.sharpe@dompost.co.nz

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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