Work to remove rubbish from a historic dump site near the banks of the Karituwhenua Stream in Palmbrook Reserve will start on Wednesday (October 27), Hastings District Council has announced.
Council says the dump site appears to date from the sixties or seventies, and was discovered when the Palmbrook volunteer planting group cleared weeds to prepare for new planting work. The material uncovered includes old roofing iron, other building materials, earthenware pipes and machinery.
Asbestos at the site was urgently removed when first discovered in July, and since then a comprehensive plan to remove as much rubbish as possible without impacting the stream had been put together by Hastings District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.
That plan includes using an excavator to remove rubbish, after which a retaining wall will be built to protect the stream bank from collapsing into the water way. The area will then be covered and planted. Safety fences will be erected around the site, and residents are being asked to avoid the area.
Hastings District Council asset group manager Craig Thew said historic landfills, both private and public, are an issue for councils across New Zealand.
“In Hastings, Council carried out comprehensive investigations into historic council dump sites last year. Unfortunately, good records were not kept, and so that meant trawling through old documents to find references to sites and following those up,” he said.
“The ones we have found have been investigated and are being monitored, especially after heavy weather events.
“There were almost no records kept of sites like the Palmbrook one, which was likely used back when the area was farmed – a common practice back in the day.
“We have to rely on people like the planting group letting us know as soon as they find anything suspicious, after which we can investigate and put a mitigation plan in place,” Mr Thew said.