30 April 2014

With huge areas of Christchurch, New Zealand set to be redeveloped after the powerful earthquake of 2011, the skills of land contamination experts, such as contaminated land principal Jon English from Opus International Consultants (Opus) are in high demand.

Jon, who is based in Opus’ Nottingham office, was in Christchurch for six months to lead the site investigations for Te Papa Ōtākaro (the regeneration of the damaged Avon River Precinct in central Christchurch).

Soil contamination became a hot topic in New Zealand after new legislation was introduced in early 2012, which requires developers to assess and manage contaminants in soil to protect human health prior to land development.

Jon led a team of local engineers, geologists and scientists in Opus’ Christchurch office, assisted by two other contaminated land specialists seconded from Opus UK offices. 

The project comprised preliminary and detailed site investigation of 43 hectares of central Christchurch, involving a thorough desk study, geophysical survey and intrusive exploration of soil and groundwater.  Jon explains:  “Key issues included the leakage of hydrocarbons from USTs at former petrol stations and also heating oil tanks in buildings which had been damaged by the earthquake. Another concern was asbestos contamination arising from collapsed buildings.  The potential presence of asbestos in demolition materials meant the implementation of strict health and safety control measures to protect our staff and the general public”.

Opus is now focussing upon the remediation of priority areas for redevelopment of the East Frame of the Te Papa Ōtākaro/ Avon River Precinct, including the Margaret Mahy Memorial Playground which is scheduled to open by the end of the year.