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New WFA site deemed safe

The new Wellington Free Ambulance base in Masterton is being built on a potentially contaminated site, but investigations show it doesn’t pose a risk to people’s health.

The new base in central Masterton, on the corner of Russell and Queen streets, is on the site of a former petrol station.

A Masterton District Council [MDC] spokesperson confirmed the site has appeared on the hazardous activity list and needed a resource consent.

Don Gillies, the construction manager for the Wairarapa ambulance station, said while work on the soil had shown low levels of contamination, environmental engineering advice found it did not pose a risk to health.

The MDC spokesperson said the land is listed on the Greater Wellington Selected Land Use Register [SLUR] as a potentially contaminated site “because it appeared on the Hazardous Activity or Industry List [HAIL], having previously been the location of a service station”.

It needed resource consent due to the site’s history, and one “has been issued that requires, before any construction work, site testing to determine whether or not contamination is present”, the spokesperson said.

“If contamination is found, a remediation action plan and site management plan will be required – which will determine the methods to be used to either contain or remove the contaminated soil.”

This could include capping the area with concrete or removing contaminated soil, which would be the responsibility of the landowner or the consent holder.

Gillies said the organisation had discovered the site was previously a petrol station during due diligence.

To ensure that there was no risk to staff and community, they hired environmental engineers Pattle Delamore Partners to complete a site investigation, he said.

“The outcome of this investigation was that, while the soil has some low levels of contamination, it does not pose a risk to the health of the community or those working on or around the site.”

As work begins to prepare the site for construction, excess soil will be removed in a safe way.

“Removing the excess soil is required as part of the construction process, not because of the soil classification,” Gillies said. – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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