Contaminated land

What is contaminated land?

Contaminated land is land where at some in point the past chemicals have made their way into the soil. Contaminated land is defined under the Resource Management Act (RMA) as land with hazardous substances in or on it that are reasonably likely to have significant adverse effects on the environment (including human health).

The threshold for classifying land as contaminated depends on its current land use. For example, what might be considered contaminated for land with housing may not be considered contaminated for industrial / commercial use. This is because of the way people are exposed to the soil on the land and the duration of exposure may be different.

There are an estimated 20,000 contaminated sites around the country, often the result of historic land use. There are also naturally-occurring contaminants in the soil.

Is there contaminated land in Hamilton?

There are around 1200 sites in Hamilton that once had a land use that could have potentially contaminated the soil. These sites once had a hazardous activity or industry on the land that could have contaminated the soil many years ago. It does not necessarily mean they are contaminated.
These sites are registered on the Council’s Selected Land Use Register.
A good example is old fruit orchards that used pesticides and herbicides (that included arsenic) in the 1940-50s and that have since been built over with housing.

How do you know if your soil / land is contaminated?

If your property is built on a site that previously had a different land use, it is noted on your Land Information Memorandum (LIM).
Having a different previous land use registered on your LIM does not necessarily mean that your land is contaminated, but it does mean that many years ago there was industry or agriculture on the land that could have resulted in contamination.
The Government introduced updated National Environmental Standards for Contaminated Land in 2012. These Standards outline the levels of contaminants that pose a risk to health.
You can carry out soil testing to understand if your soil is contaminated.

How can I limit my contact with potentially contaminated soil?

There are a range of simple tips on how to limit your exposure to contaminated soil, which may contain arsenic, included in the below factsheet.

More information

Page reviewed: 03 Nov 2015 10:59am