Contaminated Sites


The Australian and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council (ANZECC) define a contaminated site as:

"A site at which hazardous substances occur at concentrations above background levels and where assessment indicates it poses, or is likely to pose, an immediate or long-term hazard to human health or the environment".

By definition, the management of contaminated sites is closely linked to the management of waste hazardous substances.

According to the Resource Management Act 1991 (s2), contaminated land is defined as the following:

"Contaminated land means land of one of the following kinds:

(a) If there is an applicable national environmental standard on contaminants in the soil, the land is more than contaminated than the standard allows; or

(b) If there is no applicable national environmental standard on contaminants in soil, the land has a hazardous substance in or on it that-

(i) has significant effects on the environment;

(ii) or is reasonably likely to have significant adverse effects on the environment."

Car Wreckers Yard.

Car Wreckers Yard

Site Inspections and Investigations

In the 2007-08 financial year, 15 of the sites listed on the Contaminated Sites database (Selected Landuse Register) were visited and inspected. By visiting the sites listed on the register, the information that is specified can be authenticated and updated. This leaves approximately 100 sites still to be visited in the future.

Investigations are also ongoing into a number of animal dip sites in the region. There are possibly around 50,000 contaminated dip sites throughout New Zealand.

Underground storage tank removal

Over the past year, the four major oil companies continued their programme of fuel tank removal and replacement in the region. This programme is ongoing as fuel tanks come towards the end of their manufactured lifespan or create an environmental threat from leakage.

De-commissioned diesel tank

De-commissioned diesel tank

National Working Group and Environmental Standards

A national working group consisting of representatives from all Regional Councils and the Ministry for the Environment has been established with the aim of setting a consistent approach to the collection of information, how this information is entered into each Region's database and a standard classification for contaminated sites.

The Ministry has also developed a programme of work to address key issues and gaps that exist in how New Zealand manages contaminated land. It will provide more central government leadership and direction to councils managing contaminated land, which will include National Environmental Standards (NES). For more information on this work, go to -

Exterior of former Gasworks in Whangarei.

Exterior of former Gasworks in Whangarei