Central Canterbury News : November 26th 2014
BOOM TIMES Preschool changes P2 Wednesday, November 26, 2014 Arsenic anxiety D By SAM SHERWOOD arfield resident Bruce Poulson says the Stanwood Grove subdiv- ision he lives on should never have been built. Selwyn District Council and Environment Canterbury recently released a statement saying they were set to carry out a targeted soil-testing programme after arsenic was detected in several properties. The statement said soil was detected at levels ‘‘noticeably higher’’ than the national environmental standards. The council has released figures showing arsenic levels ranging from 42mg/kg to 194mg/kg in one property’s soil – almost 10 times the national standard of 20mg/kg. Despite the figures, environmental services manager John Christensen says the potential risk to residents from any contamination is low. The development’s operations manager, Andrew Brooker, says they were unaware of the history of the site when the property was bought. It is possible the contamination has been inherited from the sheep dip and sale yards that operated on part of the subdivision site from the 1880s to early 1940s. After purchasing the property, the developer was made aware of the site’s history, and conducted tests. ‘‘Those tests were submitted to the council and were approved and accepted then,’’ Brooker said. Poulson, who moved into his home three years ago, says the whole situation is ‘‘pretty scary’’. ‘‘At the end of the day there was a subdivision put through that could affect the health of your children and the residents . . .’’ Most of the residents are in retirement and ‘‘haven’t got the confidence’’ to speak out, he says. SERVING CENTRAL CANTERBURY FOR OVER 125 YEARS Life in the fast lane ‘‘They have got their dream house, and now it’s their nightmare. They don’t want to cause a fuss, but there is a health risk.’’ Poulson moved into Darfield unaware of the site’s previous use, but says if he knew he most likely wouldn’t have moved in. ‘‘This subdivision should never have gone ahead.’’ Stanwood Grove was developed in 2004/05. Because of the history of the site, the developer was required to provide a contamination assessment as part of the consent process. This was carried out by an independent consultant and indicated the presence of arsenic, but also recommended it was safe to proceed with the subdivision. The council and ECan will now review the original assessment to find out why recent testing has produced different results. If the tests find any level of contamination above that naturally found in the soil, then the properties will be placed on the Listed Land Use Register (LLUR). The council’s initial statement says there is ‘‘no evidence’’ that being on the register will affect the value of their homes. Poulson, whose home is on the LLUR, disagrees with the council. ‘‘Of course it does. Who would not be put off by that? ‘‘It directly impacts the value of your house.’’ ECan will soon be testing Poulson’s property to see how much arsenic it has. ‘‘There’s kids that play in that dirt. What detrimental health effects can me and my wife get?’’ If his property is high in arsenic, he wants the subdivision condemned with a council buyout. ‘‘It’s their problem . . . They would hate to think it would go that far but someone has to be accountable.’’ ❚ Further stories, P3. Alexander’s story: West Melton 10-year-old Alexander Vane is living with a modern, incurable and rare immune condition, but he has no intention of letting that slow him down. Story on page 4. Picture:SAMSHERWOOD.
November 19th 2014