The landowner is generally responsible and liable for cleaning up a contaminated site, even if contamination was caused by a previous owner. It is therefore in your interests to find out as much as you can about a property before you buy it. This may include getting a detailed site investigation done by a qualified practitioner.
You should ensure the site is tested by a suitably qualified and experienced contaminated site practitioner. Check in the Yellow Pages under Environmental Consultants and ask for evidence of their experience investigating, managing and remediating contaminated soils. The investigator will carry out a detailed site investigation, which will help you decide if the site poses an unacceptable risk for the way you plan to use it.
You may want to seek legal advice on your future liability. Some buyers choose to write the clean-up into the Sale and Purchase Agreement.
Environment Canterbury is responsible for regulating discharges of contaminants into the environment in the Canterbury region. Removing or disturbing quantities of soil from potentially contaminated land (HAIL land) may require resource consents under the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health. If you need to excavate or remove a large amount of soil off your property where an activity on the Hazardous Activities and Industries List has taken place, you will need to contact your local city or district council to find out if you need a resource consent and how to obtain one.
(03) 353 9007
0800 324 636 (EC INFO)
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