$2.6m war chest; planning under way for DCC tar clean-up

The Dunedin City Council expects to have a plan in place to deal with its multimillion-dollar toxic mess underground in South Dunedin by the middle of the year.

The DCC has more than $2million set aside for next year to deal with what could be a million litres of tar held in a well at the former Dunedin Gasworks site in Hillside Rd.

This week, a DCC spokesman confirmed a feasibility assessment for its cleanup was under way.

"Work on the feasibility assessment is continuing, with a number of options still under consideration, and we are working towards developing the remediation action plan by mid-2022," the spokesman said.

"We will have more to say in due course."

The DCC received $200,000 for the feasibility assessment and the development of a remediation plan last September when the Otago Regional Council secured funding from the Ministry for the Environment’s contaminated sites remediation fund for the project.

Last year, the DCC said it had $2.64million budgeted in its 10-year plan for the cleanup of the site.

The bulk of the money was to be spent in 2023-24 ($2.1million) with the rest spent the following year ($540,000).

About seven years ago, engineering consultants MWH told the DCC the cost of remediation and disposal for the site could be significant.

The former city-owned gasworks stopped operating in 1987.

The tar well underground contains potentially cancer-causing chemicals and other toxic waste.

At present, the DCC has $100,000 in its annual budgets to cover the cost of removing contaminated water, site testing and any associated maintenance.

Management of the site includes pumping out contaminated rainwater and taking it to Christchurch for disposal.

In 2017, the DCC received about $20,000 from the contaminated sites remediation fund for costs associated with a feasibility study for the site’s cleanup.


Given the current and foreseeable land use, is expensive remediation necessary? Diverting rainwater and containment of the tar could be a more pragmatic option? Gradual removal of the tar for use in road construction may be viable? It’s a bit of a worry that this issue is being managed by ORC and DCC who have no expertise or competency in this area of environmental management!

It's toxic. A health hazard.

As are lots of things, e.g. petrol, bleach, pesticides, pharmaceuticals. Appropriate containment reduces or removes the health hazard to an acceptable level. Remediation is only necessary if there is likely to be environmental or human exposure.

We live here. 'Pragmatic' is not good enough.

Unfortunately the world is not perfect and ratepayers pockets are not bottomless!



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