Hazardous waste project a success in Kaikōura and Hurunui

More than 23 tonnes of hazardous material has been collected and safely disposed of following the North Canterbury earthquakes in November 2016.

The waste – made up largely of bleach, ammonia, herbicide, pesticide, fuels, and paint – was collected as part of the $2.6m Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquake Recovery Waste Project, funded by the Ministry for the Environment.

The project was launched last year to assist with the recovery in the Kaikōura and Hurunui districts following the 2016 earthquakes.

Environment Canterbury senior scientist Rowan Latham said this project benefited from better understanding of the risks posed by asbestos and hazardous substances through the Christchurch earthquakes.

Asbestos and hazardous substances need to be handled safely during repair or demolition to prevent any adverse health effects to workers on the site, neighbours, and harm to the wider environment.

As part of the project, nearly 500 asbestos checks have been completed by specialised surveyors on every accessible building that required demolition or repair.

“Case managers worked closely with the Kaikōura and Hurunui communities to ensure they were well informed throughout the project,” Latham said.

“These case managers provided the public with the necessary information to make good risk-based decisions around hazardous substances and asbestos.”

Transfer station collections, public drop-off events, and on-property collections all ensured waste was safely disposed of.

Environment Canterbury, Kaikōura District Council, and Hurunui District Council worked together on the project.

The project addressed four key work areas: Project management and community assistance, repairing damaged waste infrastructure, provision of asbestos surveys, and hazardous substance management.

The transfer stations and resource recovery centres in Kaikōura, Waiau, Amberley and Hanmer Springs were repaired and enhanced as part of the project.

Mayor approval

Kaikōura mayor Winston Gray was pleased with the results of the project.

“It’s sobering to see how much waste was processed in the earthquake recovery waste project. We are thankful to the Ministry for the Environment for the funding they made available, which helped both Kaikōura and Hurunui divert hazardous waste from landfill and protect our precious environment,” Gray said.

“The Kaikōura District Council is proud to be working with our community to protect our wildlife and land and make sure our district’s environment has a sustainable future. Our next big project will be looking at how we can help improve Innovative Waste Kaikōura and how our community can minimise our environmental impact.”

Latham and Rachel Vaughan, strategic advisor from Smart Pathways, presented the results of the project at the annual WasteMINZ conference last month.

“The outcomes have been fantastic and will provide clear environmental benefits for the Kaikōura and Hurunui regions for years to come,” Latham said.

The collection phase of the project has finished, and residents are advised to dispose of hazardous waste at their local transfer station or resource recovery park.

Final site works in Kaikōura to repair the Innovative Waste Resource Recovery Centre are currently underway, and the project is due for completion in March 2019.