The Government has a contestable fund that the Waikato Regional Council and Thames-Coromandel District Council can apply to for further testing of contaminants at the Moanataiari subdivision in Thames, Environment Minister Nick Smith says.
"The Government shares the concerns of residents and the local Thames community at the levels of arsenic recorded in soil samples at Moanataiari," said Dr Smith.
"I urge residents to heed the precautionary advice of the councils and health authorities to protect their health while more detailed testing is undertaken and a long-term plan implemented to address the contamination."
Moanataiari is built on land reclaimed from the Firth of Thames. The area was filled with mine tailings, mine waste, and clean fill subdivided in the 1960s and houses built in the 1970s.
"Undertaking a subdivision in this way would be unacceptable today," Dr Smith said.
"In May this year I announced a new National Environmental Standard for situations like Moanataiari. The standard applies to proposed developments on reclaimed land and land that has been used for certain activities or industries. If the land is found to be contaminated, steps must be taken to cleanse the soil or contain the contamination, to make it safe for human use before development.
"The Government has a constructive work programme with the Green Party on addressing contaminated sites. We have developed a comprehensive clean-up of the Tui Mine at Te Aroha launched in October. We are committed to working with the Thames-Coromandel District Council and the Waikato Regional Council on developing a clean-up plan for the Moanataiari community once we know the extent and scale of the contamination.
"The residents of Moanataiari need certainty and it is important that testing gets underway as soon as practicable. The Ministry for the Environment will work closely with the Waikato Regional Council and the Thames-Coromandel District Council to ensure their funding application is completed and determined urgently."