Funding for site clean-up hailed

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The Government’s pledge of $975,000 to help clean up one of Timaru’s most toxic sites is a ‘‘fantastic outcome,’’ a Timaru District Council spokesman says.
‘ It’s a fantastic outcome for council,
absolutely ‘
services group manager, Chris English, said the announcement, made by Environment Minister Nick Smith last week, was pleasing news for Timaru and those involved in the clean-up of 90,000 litres of toxic substances. The site was potentially contaminated by heavy metals, including chromium, nickel, cyanide and asbestos, and acids and alkalis not correctly stored.
A deed for the site — at the Concours Electroplaters building in North St — had been signed by the district council, which was now awaiting the ownership process to be finalised, Mr English said.
In the meantime, Dr Smith announced the Government would provide $975,000 to assist with the clean-up, through the Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund.
He said toxic materials, such as those on the Concours site, potentially threatened the health of the local community, cause longterm damage to the wider environment and were a blight on New Zealand’s international reputation for being clean and beautiful.
A fire at the site early last year was the catalyst for the clean-up project, Mr English said.
‘‘We had an evacuation in Timaru because of a 200-litre container [of chemical, which signalled] for central government to treat the site with urgency.’’
Once possession was complete, the clean-up would begin, managed by Environment Canterbury (ECan).
‘‘Following the removal of chemicals, ECan is going to follow through with a site health check to see if the ground underneath and the building itself is contaminated,’’ Mr English said.
‘‘There’s a lot of acids in there that could have infiltrated into the brick work.’’
Until then, the future of the building could not be determined.
‘‘It’s a fantastic outcome for council, absolutely,’’ he said, of the financial backing by Government.
‘‘We’ve known for two and a-half years that site was dangerous, so we’ve been advocating all that time that agencies look into it.’’
The site was the fifth of 10 nationwide that required decontamination.