Council to be proactive on toxic soil
The Moanataiari Governance Group has voted to adopt the Thames Coromandel District Council's "awareness creation programme" for residents affected by arsenic and lead contamination in the soil.
The Moanataiari subdivision at the north end of Thames was built on reclaimed land using old mine tailings and residents were told in 2011 their properties had elevated levels of heavy metals and other toxins.
Mayor Glenn Leach said their research showed the risk of developing health problems due to the contamination of soil was minor and something many communities throughout the country would have to deal with.
"We believe that the risks are minute and they are a result of naturally occurring mineralisation which will be a Coromandel-wide and a New Zealand-wide phenomenon," he said. "It is something we should be living with - not remediating against."
The council's awareness campaign would include measures like providing clean soil for residents to grow vegetables and assistance to affected owners to cover exposed areas.
Since the contamination was reported the council had been in communication with affected residents and was ready to get on with the job.
"We have sent out over 50 newsletters, dozens of mailouts and over 50 community forums and had a multitude of private meetings with residents alone and we seem to think that we know what the majority think about the project," he said.
"My council will not support the delay in this project and to do more science to support the world-class science that we have already purchased is unacceptable."
Mr Leach said his council was not in favour of the "dig and dump" approach and said it was too expensive and unnecessary.
"The cost-benefit of this approach is almost non-existent and complete madness."