Presenter:  Dave Robotham, Geoscience Consulting NZ

Presentation title:  Turf wars: Sports turfs as a HAIL and the challenge for local government

In 2011, sports turfs were added to the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) due to the historical use of persistent pesticides. However, little is known about turf contamination and, given the wide variety of ‘turfs’, ambiguity existed over the definition of sport turfs and what types of sites it covers.  The lack of guidance available for determining the types of turfs subject to the application of persistent pesticides is problematic for local government when identifying, investigating and managing these sites.  Environment Canterbury undertook a preliminary study to identify which turf sites should be considered HAILs, and therefore warrant inclusion on its Listed Land Use Register.    Dealing with turf sites is complex due to the inherent variability of historical management practices.  The study identified that it was almost impossible to obtain general chemical application rates and frequency data to try and discount some sports turf sites.  With the absence of robust historical records and field data, it appears that all sports turf should be considered potentially contaminated and managed accordingly.      The study’s findings and recommendations have considerable implications for local governments around New Zealand. Regional councils must identify the location of sports turfs, which raises the need for a robust risk communications approach when dealing with sites with sensitive receptors (e.g. school sports fields).  Regional councils must also manage their other RMA responsibilities in relation to these sites. Territorial authorities need to consider sports turfs under the NES during sports field upgrades and renewals, and when dealing with the off-site disposal of excavated soil from turf sites.      There may be a significant legacy of pesticide contamination, but what of the risk posed to the environment and site users? Does the potential risk posed by turfs merit a conservative approach, or is further investigation needed?

Event: WasteMINZ Conference 2013

Date: Thursday 24 October 2013