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Moanataiari Governance Group decisions

06 December 2012

By a majority at yesterday's Moanataiari Project Governance Group meeting, the committee approved the TCDC recommendations to implement a "non-physical" approach to manage the very small risk to health from exposure to naturally occurring minerals in the soil.

"What's really important to understand is that with the very small additional health risks at Moanataiari, we will not be undertaking "dig and dump remediation" said Mayor Glenn Leach. "Our science advisors and community representatives supported this approach".

"We strongly believe, after spending over $700,000 between three agencies on the project so far, we had enough information, peer reviewed by the best people overseas, to give us confidence that our recommendations were spot-on" said Mayor Leach.

The Council's own work, verified by external scientists, on the large disparity in water and soil standards for arsenic also brought context to the debate said Mayor Leach.

"With New Zealand's water standards allowing much higher levels of arsenic than the soil standards, this outcome was the only practical solution and also put risk into perspective. If the water standards allow consumers to drink water with up to 30 times more arsenic than the soil guidelines stipulate, for residential properties, then we can certainly live with our levels of mineralisation on the Coromandel simply by applying common-sense solutions and health and gardening advice".

"A big thank you to the people of Moanataiari for their patience and support for what we think is the right approach. I'd also like to thank our Community Representatives on the Governance Group Shane Bromley and Wati Ngamane who supported the TCDC recommendations.

This week a letter is being sent to all Moanataiari ratepayers and residents to update them on yesterday's decisions at the Governance Group meeting and to outline, in detail, the next steps.

Council staff will also start work developing a response plan, with affected homeowners, based on the "non-physical works" approach, which will be finalised in the New Year.

"My final message to residents and ratepayers is to take comfort in the certainty we have given everyone and try and have a relaxing summer. The risks at Moanataiari are extremely small and the next steps in the project are nothing that should cause anyone anxiety" said Mayor Leach.

Read the TCDC presentation and the arsenic water and soil standards comparisons

Our approach

By majority, the Governance Group recommended staff to implement the recommended solution described as "Scenario B" - Non-physical works response:

  1. Scenario B:  This scenario is based on an awareness creation programme promoting behavioural changes, providing safe soil to grow vegetables in and providing some assistance to property owners in affected areas such as Block 2 to cover exposed material in high traffic areas and other similar solutions such as are currently promoted by the Ministry of Health
  2. Non-intrusive remediation excludes "dig and dump" type remediation. However, it may include capping.   
  3. Approves of discussion between the Medical Officer of Health, the Ministry for the Environment, the Waikato Regional Council and the Thames-Coromandel District Council to develop an awareness programme.

The Waikato Regional Council and Ministry for the Environment Governance Group representatives did not vote in favour of resolutions 1 and 2.