Buller District Council

Inangahua Community Board Public Forum Held 9th November 2017

10th November, 2017

The purpose of the public forum was to allow Community Board members and interested members of the public to hear from local resident and landowner Mr Ross Moore and his engineer Mr Dave Stone about landfill activities on rural land located on the outskirts of Reefton.

In January 2008 Rosco Contractors Limited (RCL) was demolishing and cleaning up the site of the old Reefton Convent following the fire to the building when asbestos cement products were discovered.  These cement board products were made by Hardies and commonly known as fibre board. The asbestos fibres in these products became a real danger to people’s health when the product was cut, and the resulting dust carried the fibres into the lungs. Asbestos fibre is no longer permitted to be used in the manufacture of any products.

A Resource Consent was obtained from the West Coast Regional Council to discharge this low-grade asbestos contaminated waste material by burial on the land owned by Mr Moore.

The “low grade” relates to the asbestos material being asbestos cement products such as fibre board.

The main condition of the consent was that all the waste material containing any asbestos cement board product need to be wrapped in plastic and buried with at least one metre of soil cover. The consent covered an area of 0.5ha and had a term of 35 years. The GPS co-ordinates of the site were taken and lodged with the Regional Council.

In the period from 2008 to 2016 less than 300 cubic metres of asbestos cement contaminated building waste material was received at the landfill in 4 different consignments.

In early 2017 RCL was approached by contractors associated with the Christchurch Metro Sports Facility project about the disposal of up to 10,000 cubic metres of soil waste material from the site in Moorhouse Ave.

The on-site mandatory testing of the soil waste material by Environment Canterbury found that 3 of the 8 samples taken showed anomalous lead levels above the National Environmental Standard for residential land of 140 parts per million. Only trace asbestos was found in the samples which means that the likelihood of any airborne asbestos is very low but as a precaution the soil waste material must be kept moist during recovery, transporting, and at the landfill site.

With only trace asbestos found in the soil waste material this meant that the material was legally able to be removed from the site and transported to a consented landfill.

The lead contamination in the soil material had likely come from the historic use of red/white lead paint on the buildings on the site.

A new Resource Consent was applied for and granted by the West Coast Regional Council to discharge the lead contaminated soil material to a landfill located on the Moore property.

The area applied for was an additional 1.0ha with the main condition of consent being the lining of the cell (excavated pit) with heavy duty black plastic and this plastic to be drawn over the top of the material and at least 1metre of compacted soil placed over the top.

It is estimated that the life of the heavy duty black plastic buried in the ground away from sunlight will be several hundred years.

The landfill is sited on the terrace well above the Inangahua River floodplain and the nature of the Devils Creek gravels, with their high clay content, means that the land is not that “free draining” and is very suited to containment of the plastic wrapped materials.

Sites in Canterbury require lining with suitable clays as the gravels there are very free draining, and this can be quite expensive to engineer. Rosco Contractors believe this makes the Reefton landfill a more cost-efficient option even with the greater cartage distance.

The Metro Sports Facility job has been completed and some 7,300 cubic metres of soil waste material was delivered to the landfill. Dust was the principle concern of the mandatory Waste Disposal Management Plan, but all loads delivered to the Reefton site were either water saturated, or moist and dust mitigation measures were not required at the landfill site.

A further contract to dispose of material from the Belfast motorway job is currently underway. This material is from an old farm dump and when a small amount of asbestos cement board was discovered during excavation all the contractors’ trucks used in the disposal then had to be fitted with plastic liners before loading. When the load is tipped off the liner goes into the landfill along with the soil material. The actual fibre cement board is separately wrapped in plastic before disposal into the landfill.

It is a requirement that all trucks must sign in on arrival at the landfill and all decks must be covered when the trucks leave the landfill site.

A proportion of the trucks involved in carting the material to Reefton are returning to Christchurch with a backload of coal.

The landfill will go onto the hazardous site register and no residential dwellings will be able to be built on this site in the future.

There were four community board members present and around a dozen members of the public who were able to ask questions and have them answered either by Mr Moore or Mr Stone.

The question of monitoring by the West Coast Regional Council was raised and the Community Board will request a report on this from the Regional Council to be presented to the Board meeting on 5th December 2017.

It was agreed that this summary would be published in the Clarion, passed to local media, and be posted on the Buller District Council website.

Given that there have been some concerns expressed from the community on the activities at the landfill site Mr Moore generously offered his time, and that of Mr Stone, to give a presentation outlining the facts around the removal and transporting of mainly waste soil material to the landfill site.

An email was received just prior to the start of the forum from a couple who wished to register their concern and strongly oppose dumping of dangerous materials so close to the Reefton township and especially the Inangahua River.

The presentation was much appreciated by those that attended and Mr Moore has offered the opportunity for anyone who has further concerns or simply wants more information to contact him directly.

On behalf of the community I want to thank Ross and Dave for their honest and open approach in fronting those present.


Graeme Neylon
Chair ICB and Deputy Mayor
Buller District Council


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