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1 Introduction

This is the first of an intended series of documents on contaminated site management to be produced by the Ministry for the Environment.

Their purpose is to ensure that reports prepared by consultants and others on the investigation, assessment, remediation and any subsequent monitoring of contaminated land contain sufficient and appropriate information to enable efficient review and appropriate action by regulators, site auditors, members of the public and other interested parties. Chapters 2 and 3 of these guidelines provide the minimum requirements for the contents of reports related to contaminated land. Chapter 4 lists guidelines for dealing with underground petroleum storage tanks. Adoption and use of these guidelines should result in enhanced environmental awareness of the issues at contaminated sites and promote outcomes in accord with the principles of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).

Other or additional reporting requirements may apply in certain cases.  Where land is subject to specific planning, building or zoning requirements related to the actual or likely presence of hazardous contaminants, additional information may be requested.  The appropriate planning authority should be consulted for details.  Also, the relevant authority should be contacted when a site1 is subject to:

  • an investigation by the authority
  • an enforcement action by the authority
  • a resource consent application, or
  • where the site has previously been granted a resource consent.

Reports and reporting related to contaminated sites may be used by local authorities or the Ministry for the Environment to monitor environmental impacts associated with contaminated sites, their management, and relevant policy.

There are already New Zealand guidelines on the investigation, assessment, remediation, and monitoring for some types of land uses, specifically gasworks, petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated sites, timber treatment sites and sheep-dip sites.  These are available from the Ministry for the Environment, and are listed on the Ministry’s website.

A number of contaminant types and land-use activities are not yet addressed in guidelines, nor are a number of associated issues, such as the representativeness of sampling, assessing natural attenuation, requisite auditing procedures, and the competency of personnel involved in site investigations, audit and monitoring. A list of New Zealand and international reference documents (Chapter 5) has been compiled, which may provide assistance in these matters when reporting on contaminated sites.

1 For the purposes of this document, ‘site’ means an area of land, as defined by legal descriptions or part of a legal description, which is under investigation.