13 Aug 2009

Residents want soil on former toxic site removed

7:16 pm on 13 August 2009

Residents in Mapua want someone to take responsibility for the removal of a large amount of soil left behind after the clean-up of New Zealand's most toxic site.

Tasman District Council and the Ministry of Environment spent millions cleaning up the site of the former Fruitgrowers Chemical Company near Nelson.

An audit report released in July says the area is safe to be developed, but large mounds of soil up to four metres high have been left behind.

Residents are angry the soil is still there and fear toxic matter within it will eventually wind up in an estuary.

Mapua resident Annette Walker says the soil ruins the landscape and no-one is taking responsibility for getting rid of it.

"It is quite possible that, even though this contamination is in the core of these great piles of soil, eventually it will run off and go into the estuary ... because it hasn't been buried."

Environment Minister Nick Smith says the site meets resource consent obligations and it is the council's responsibility to move the soil.

Dr Smith says the Government has already contributed $8 million for the clean-up and there is no evidence to suggest the soil poses an environmental risk.

But Tasman District Mayor Richard Kempthorne says the council does not have the budget to remove it and residents may just have to live with it.