Asbestos poses risk at Ocean Beach

    Signs at Ocean Beach in Bluff warn of the presence of asbestos on the foreshore.

    ERODING landfills are increasingly becoming an issue, and among them is Bluff’s Ocean Beach where contaminants are making their way on to the foreshore health.

    An update on the matter was provided to Environment Southland (ES) in an agenda for an upcoming committee meeting.

    ES catchment integration manager Fiona Young explained landfill risks at Ocean Beach came to light in 2018 when a member of the public reported finding asbestos fragments on the beach behind the former Ocean Beach Alliance meat works.

    In October 2019, tenders closed for work to carry out an investigation into the extent of asbestos contamination.

    ES led the project, with half the estimated $100,000 cost funded from the Ministry for the Environment’s contaminated sites remediation fund. Additional costs were to be met by the landowners, including the Department of Conservation (Doc) and the Invercargill City Council (ICC).

    The initial project was to include an investigation of the site and assessment of remedial options and, in December that year, a specialist team removed some of the asbestos material.

    Sampling from the site has shown there is a risk to human health from exposure to heavy metals and asbestos-contaminated soil as well as a potential risk to the marine ecology and aquatic organisms.

    Ms Young’s report states they had a better understanding and knowledge of the landfill’s history; The site dated back to before 1900 and included the Te Wera village.

    The remedial options assessment report considered sustainable remediation of the site and recommended a number of options, with the preferred being a combination of waste removal, hard and soft coastal engineering.

    Further assessment work was needed to confirm options and costs, including an assessment of climate change and sea level rise effects.

    Ms Young’s update states the ministry approved the report findings and the working group agreed to proceed with carrying out further assessments.

    “It is acknowledged that Doc and ICC intend to sustainably remediate the landfill in the long-term and are proactively working toward this.”

    Work was ongoing to manage the discharge and an Interim Site Management Plan would monitor and manage the discharges and risks to the public and the environment.

    This would be managed by Doc and ICC.

    Stakeholder and community consultation would be held.