Discovery of substance puts city centre work on hold

The discovery of an unknown substance in one of Invercargill’s main streets has meant the council’s streetscape work had to be paused.

Since August, Invercargill City Council contractors have been working to upgrade the inner-city streets to create a more vibrant city centre.

That work had to be paused due to the nationwide lockdown, and now it is on hold again following the discovery this week of an unknown substance among archaeological material and soil excavated at an Esk St site.

Council roading manager Russell Pearson said it did not present any risk to the public and the work had been suspended as a health and safety measure while testing on the samples was carried out.

"Over the next few days the Esk St site will appear to have considerably less activity as these crews will temporarily transition across to Don St in the meantime."

New Zealand Heritage Properties principal archaeologist Amy McStay said safety procedures had been enacted and all parties had been alerted to the find.

Those parties included an environmental consultant, who would determine the nature of the material.

"Protocol means that the material is treated as contaminated until proven otherwise and accordingly, the site and material has been secured pending result."

A council spokeswoman said the council had no idea of how many days the work would be paused for, but results of the material and soil testing were expected later this week.

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