Mapua contaminated site clean-up

Boundary of Mapua site.
Boundary of Mapua site

This page outlines the history and challenges of the Mapua site clean up. The Mapua site was formerly New Zealand’s worst contaminated site, due to pesticide pollution by the Fruitgrowers’ Chemical Company (FCC).

Turning contaminated land into a public park

A public waterfront park and flourishing grass now covers seaside land at Mapua, near Nelson, which was previously New Zealand’s worst contaminated site – a legacy of decades of pesticide pollution by its former owners, the Fruitgrowers' Chemical Company (FCC).

The Ministry for the Environment helped fund an investigation of the site – now owned by Tasman District Council– and the majority of the $12 million clean-up project.

The challenges

The clean up posed significant challenges, including the sheer amount of contamination, and the site’s location sandwiched between a residential area and a sensitive marine ecosystem.

Because of its severity, the legacy of FCC’s pollution will always be present to some degree, and the site will require ongoing management and monitoring. But New Zealand’s worst contaminated site is now unrecognisable from the toxic eyesore it was before 2003.

Though the clean up has turned a highly toxic site into a real asset for the Mapua community, the Ministry has been criticised for aspects of its handling of the project.  The Ministry reviewed its role in Mapua project and applied its learning to other projects it has undertaken including the Tui Mine remediation project which was successfully completed in May 2013.

After Clean up
After clean up
During Clean up
During clean up
After clean-up – waterfront park
After clean up – waterfront park

History of the site clean up booklet

We've published a history of the FCC to deliver a promise to the community to tell their story and that of the site clean up, so they are not forgotten. Copies of the booklet, Cleaning up Mapua – the history of the Fruitgrowers' Chemical Company site, have been distributed to the key people involved in the story and local resident associations, historians, libraries, museums and schools.

Reports on the clean-up project

Assessment of Public Health Risk from the Remediation of the former Fruitgrowers Chemical Company site, Mapua, Nelson (March 2010) [Ministry of Health's website]
A report containing the results of an investigation into possible public health risks of the site clean up, published on the Ministry of Health website.

Remedation of the FCC Mapua site: Review of the role and actions of the Ministry for the Environment New Zealand
A review of the Ministry’s handling of the remediation of the FCC Mapua Site.

Audit of the Remediation of the former Fruitgrowers Chemical Company Site, Mapua
An auditor's report of the site clean up.

Mapua clean-up Site Validation Report 
An independent analysis of soil sample results taken from the Mapua site, prepared by Sinclair Knight Merz Ltd.

Report on occupational health and safety at the Fruitgrowers Chemical Company remediation site, Mapua (May 2012)
A report by the Department of Labour containing the results of an investigation into possible occupational health and safety issues on the remediation site.

Timeline of the site contamination and clean up

1932: Fruitgrowers' Chemical Company (FCC) opened a pesticide formulation factory at Mapua.

1945: The manufacture of organochlorine pesticides began.

1958: Organophosphorus pesticide formulation was introduced.   

1988: FCC operations closed down. By this time more than a hundred chemicals had been used and formulated on site.

Mid-1990s: Site investigations were conducted, leading to the development of a resource consent application for a containment strategy.

1997: A resource consent hearing granted a consent for containment of the site. This was appealed by Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society in part on the grounds that containment was not the preferred response. The Government also expressed its view that the preferred strategy was remediation, not containment. 

1999: Government agreed to assist Tasman District Council with funding, research and advice, delivered in part by the Ministry for the Environment.

2001: Tasman District Council awarded the contract to Thiess, using the remediation technology of Environmental Decontamination Ltd.

2003: Further site characterisation and investigations was conducted by Thiess, leading to a resource consent application in 2003 for remedial works. Greenpeace and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society appealed the conditions, and the consent was granted with amendments in November 2003.

2004: In August, Thiess Services withdrew from the project and the Ministry became the consent holder, assuming responsibility for the project.

2007: The last batch of contaminated soil was treated in July. In November, the resource consents expired and the responsibility for the site was returned to the landowners, Tasman District Council.

2009: Final site auditor’s report for remediation of Mapua site published.

2011: Phase two of Mapua Waterfront Park – including seating, boardwalks, planting and amphitheatre – completed in October. At the same time, 'Cleaning Up Mapua – The History of the Fruitgrowers’ Chemical Company Site' was published by the Ministry.