Updates on Amberley tyre stockpile

Environment Canterbury is working closely with Hurunui District Council to manage a tyre stockpile at 122 Racecourse Road, Amberley where a large fire broke out on 29 January 2021. To keep the community up to date with the fire and ongoing remediation work, we will continue to update the information below.

Update 43: 17 August 2021 

We’ve received Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research’s report from April 2021 (PDF file, 125.14KB) which assessed the effects of particle deposition on food crops. In summary, it found: 

  • Samples from six locations support the conclusion that there was no significant impact caused by particles from the fire falling onto surrounding crops. Particles deposited from the fire were likely to be widely dispersed and deposited in a thin film. 
  • There was marginal evidence of smoke particles in the soil of the sample site located closest to the fire. However, this appeared to be no greater than particles in the soil likely to have been caused by vehicle emissions from traffic on State Highway 1, as shown in the samples from the site located near the Highway.  

We had hoped to release this report in conjunction with the CDHB’s health risk assessment, however, their assessment is still in progress. Therefore, we have decided to share Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research’s report (PDF file,125.14KB) with the community ahead of the CDHB’s health risk assessment. 

Previous updates

2021
Update 42: 25 June 2021

Following the recent significant rainfall event in late May/early June, we conducted water quality testing of the bores downstream from the fire site.

Results from the post-rain sampling were compared with Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand (revised 2018) and with the February dry weather samples from the same wells.

Once again, we found no contaminants exceeded the safe limits for drinking water at the time of testing and no elevated concentrations of contaminants that could be related to the fire.

Update 41: 7 May 2021

Capping of the site to make it waterproof was completed today, Friday 7 May. While the capping process was delayed, this meant that additional material that posed a risk of contamination could be removed first. The cap will remain in place until the site can be fully remediated.

Site of the Amberley tyre fire has been capped

Update 40: 22 April 2021
Waterproof covering for the site has been selected and purchased from a New Zealand supplier. Installation of the covering has been delayed by longer than expected site preparation works. Groundworks (including contouring of the site) have been completed. The removal of fire damaged metal (which has impeded site access) will be completed early next week and application of the cover will commence as soon as this is completed. We will be regularly monitoring the site, and updating this webpage with progress.
Update 39: 1 April 2021

Site management

The covering of the site with waterproof material has been delayed over the past two weeks by site preparation. This has included ensuring all contaminated material had been included within the capped pile, and clearing site of obstructions. Procurement of the waterproofing material is being completed and we expect work on covering the site will commence within a few days.

Update 38: 18 March 2021

Data analysis and public health risk assessment

This week we have been able to provide the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) with more detailed modelling of the plume from the fire, showing both 24-hour and hourly potential contaminant concentrations. Canterbury DHB public health staff and their external experts will now use this modelling to inform a comprehensive assessment of the potential health risks arising from the emissions from the fire (the external expertise that Environment Canterbury has contracted has looked solely at detecting contaminants and estimating their movement).

The external experts commissioned by Canterbury DHB will take several more weeks to complete their work. We will provide information from the Canterbury DHB’s risk assessment publicly as soon as we are able. 

Please note that our update from 5 March indicated releasing the above information by 12 March. Unfortunately, this was our error and, as noted above, the results will take several weeks further. We apologise for this error.

Arson charges

On 16 March a person charged with the arson pleaded not guilty in the Christchurch District Court. The matter is being called again in April.

Update 37: 5 March 2021

Ground and air contaminant results

We have received laboratory analysis of ground contaminants and the initial modelling of the smoke plume from the fire.

The results and modelling are currently being reviewed by external experts and have been sent to CDHB for comment, and we hope to be able to report back fully next week.

Site capping

Following the capping of the site with soil, we have been assessing options for adding a waterproofing cover to the site, and a programme for regular inspection of the site. Specifications have been confirmed for this work, which has included consultation with external experts. Work is underway to procure the necessary materials and installation is expected to commence shortly, to ensure that the site is protected.

As has been the case throughout, we continue to work closely with the landowner on site management and monitoring. We will be applying to the Environment Court for an enforcement order, by agreement with the landowner, that will stipulate ongoing reporting and monitoring requirements. However, this application will not delay progress on the capping itself.

This is similar to the approach taken in relation to the 2018 fire, in which we served an abatement notice to ensure site remediation was completed (which was also undertaken with the full cooperation of the landowner).

Site remediation

Work will commence on researching the full remediation of the site, once the protection of the site has been completed.

Update 36: 19 February 2021

The following are some questions that were raised at the meeting on 11 February, that we committed to answering:

What are the results of the groundwater testing?

The results show that against the Drinking-Water Standards for New Zealand, no contaminants exceeded the safe limits for drinking water at the time of testing. 

Also, no contaminants specific to burnt tyre material showed concentrations out of the expected range for groundwater in the area. Most organic contaminants we tested had concentrations too low to be detected.

Please note that we did not test for microbiological contaminants which can also be a risk to shallow wells from other sources (such as septic tanks, livestock or stormwater), but would not be a contaminant from burnt tyres.

Can you give us a list of the bores you are monitoring?

We have contacted individual bore owners with the details of the above results, but for privacy reasons, we cannot publicly provide a list of those bores. 

What are the possible effects on plants and animals?

As above, we have the groundwater results, which in the first instance are being sent to well owners. These results indicate no contaminants exceeding the safe limits for drinking water. We are hoping to receive results from our hard surface testing by the end of next week, with more likely to follow. 

The dispersion model is being worked on and we anticipate that will be complete early next month. 

To reiterate, as soon as we have definitive and reliable data, we will share it publicly. 

What is the plan if we have a significant rainfall before capping takes place?

We will be monitoring the risk of heavy rainfall resulting in the transport of contaminants into the soil profile. All efforts are being invested to ensure that a waterproof cover is added to the site as soon as practicable.

To assist us in assessing this risk, we have reviewed the contamination of soil under the 2018 fire. This site was only capped with soil and no waterproof layer was applied. Records indicate that 2018 was an above-average year in terms of total rainfall. Under this site, the remediation programme removed ~100 mm of soil from the fire location.

Validation sampling of the remaining soil by Sephira Environmental Limited found no detectable PAH contamination, and possibly slightly elevated levels of zinc (but still generally at or somewhat below regulatory background levels of zinc for the Amberley area). This suggests that contamination generally migrated no deeper than ~100 mm into the soil in the period following the previous fire event over a 7-month period, with no waterproof cap.

This information will help to inform the remediation plan put in place for the existing situation.

Is ECan taking a formal enforcement approach?

We continue to work with the landowner, but a consented enforcement order is likely to be issued. 

What will be involved to manage dust as part of the remediation?  

There will be a dust mitigation plan in place to ensure no risk is posed by dust emissions beyond the property’s boundary that occur as part of the remediation process.  

Why weren’t fire breaks between the main tyre pile considered after the 2018 fire? 

Mitigating the fire risk is the landowners responsibility, and addressing contamination is the responsibility of Environment Canterbury. 

The installation of fire breaks was considered by the landowner and Environment Canterbury following the 2018 fire. It was found that the cost of moving the tyres to create fire breaks on the site was significant, relative to the costs of moving tyres from the site. Given this, efforts were put into developing a plan to permanently remove the tyres from site.  

Creating fire breaks may have increased the opportunity for arson and widened any affected area.  

Over the summer the landowner has undertaken steps to reduce risks arising from grass fires, through the management of surrounding vegetation.

Does MfE give advice on tyres; is ECan following this?

The outdoor storage of tyres that have reached their end of life is an issue for Canterbury and other regions. The Government has two initiatives to address this:

  • In 2020 tyres were one of six priority products declared under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. This requires the implementation of a regulated product stewardship scheme. Tyrewise is an industry-led project to develop a regulated product stewardship scheme.
  • In 2020 it was confirmed that a National Environmental Standard for the outdoor storage of tyres (NES) would be progressed with regulations coming into force in mid-2021. The NES puts the responsibility on regional councils through rule conditions. Tyre storage outdoors that does not comply with any of the permitted activity conditions will require a resource consent. More information will be available in the near future. The report on submissions on the proposed National Environmental Standard for the outdoor storage of tyres is available here.

Our staff are working to prepare for the incoming National Environmental Standard for the outdoor storage of end-of-life tyres. This includes identifying existing tyre piles, location, proximity to sensitive areas. Staff have also been successful at identifying piles using our mapping system and tools like Google Earth. If there is a high-risk pile identified, we will raise this with the relevant agencies and the landowner.  

We have no legislative powers until the NES is operative. 

General updates: 

  • We have completed a drone survey of the site, which will help inform the remediation plan. We can confirm that the site is currently safe and stable.
  • Following discussions with MfE, we have submitted an application for emergency funding to MfE’s Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund (CSRF).
  • Work to specify and install the waterproof covering is continuing. 
Update 35: 12 February 2021

Community meeting

We are very grateful to the members of the Amberley community who joined us at last night’s meeting to talk about the tyre fire. We acknowledge the understandable concern and frustration within the community, and our aim last night was to address those concerns and answer questions.

We were pleased to be able to share information about what’s happening at the site itself, the latest information on testing, public health and next steps.  

We were joined by representatives from Hurunui District Council, FENZ and CDHB. There were several questions that collectively we were unable to answer last night, but we will be working on responses to all those questions and providing answers as soon as possible. 

Drinking water

The preliminary results indicate no cause for concern with results all below any drinking water guidelines. We expect to have full results early next and will provide those when we have them.

The testing gives us a baseline so we are in a good position to monitor any change after significant rainfall events or over time.

Continued testing

Both Environment Canterbury and CDHB are continuing with investigations (groundwater and surface contamination), and while we don’t expect definitive results to be available immediately, as soon as we have the information, it will be shared publicly.

Public health statement from CDHB

Please find below a statement from Canterbury District Health Board: 

 Amberley Tyre Fire - public health Q&As (PDF 165.83KB)

Update 34: 11 February 2021

Timeline of action taken

We have been asked to provide information on the various actions taken since the tyre pile came to our attention. Below is a brief description of some of the many practical and legal steps that have occurred: 

DATE PERIOD PRACTICAL ACTION LEGAL ACTION FIRE EVENT
 May 2016  Hurunui District Council (HDC) advises Environment Canterbury (ECan) of tyre pile.    
 2016-2017   HDC issues 5 abatement notices and 18 infringement notices; recipients challenge, claiming that HDC land use rule does not apply. HDC issues infringement notices, were later paid on a time-payment basis to Court.  
 Feb 2017   ECan issues abatement notices, the requirements of which the companies continually fail to meet. Small fire in proximity of tyres, suspected arson.
 2017 ECan investigates options for removal of tyres and associated costs. Cheapest option is export of baled tyres overseas – costed by ECan at $360k.    
Dec-17   ECan applies to court for enforcement order on basis that a fire has occurred and there is a risk of discharge to air land and water, which are matters it controls under the Resource Management Act 1991.  
Feb-18     Fire in bund near tyre pile estimated as between 500 to 2000 tyres (actual number not known), caused by arsonist.
Apr-18   Court grants enforcement order, requiring removal of tyres by 31 December 2018.  
Apr-Dec 2018 ECan monitors progress of tyre removal. Only 40,000 of 200,000 removed.    
Mar-19 Discussions commenced with landowner regarding removal of tyres.    
May-19 First application to MfE Waste Minimisation fund for assistance to remove tyres ECan files charges in Environment Court for tyre companies’ failure to comply with enforcement order.  
Oct-19 MfE declines ECan’s application for funding contribution.    
Feb-Dec 2020 ECan works with landowner to explore plan and funding for tyre removal.    
May-20 ECan makes second application to MfE fund (which requires an NZ based recycling solution) for up to half the cost of removal, costed by ECan at $585k, with landowner to pay balance.    
Jul-20 ECan invited to progress its application to MfE by 7 August 2020 for funding with HDC as joint applicant. Funding due to be confirmed and finalised in mid-February 2021.    
Aug-20   Court hears ECan prosecution; companies and director found guilty.  
Dec-20   Company director sentenced to fine of $36,000 and reparation of $20,000.  
Jan-20     Third fire due to arson. Remaining tyres, of around 160,000, destroyed.
Update 33: 10 February 2021

Public meeting

Reminder that there will be a public meeting tomorrow, Thursday 11 February, 6pm at Amberley Pavilion (The Tin Shed), 50 Douglas Road.

Remediation reports from previous fire

Our staff have been asked about the remediation work undertaken following the 2018 fire. The following documents provide information on the 2018 remediation, which is relevant to the current remediation efforts:

  1. Memo characterising the material after the first fire (PDF File, 994.21KB).
  2. Sephira Report documenting and validating the remediation that was undertaken (3.55MB).

Based on the results of the Sephira Report, we consider that the previous site remediation was successful and we believe a similar successful remediation will be possible in the case of this most recent fire. 

The key message in both documents which applies to the recent fire is that we do not expect contamination to move very far, especially since FENZ decided not to use water or foam on the fire.

Update 32: 9 February 2021

The table below shows the latest air monitoring data, as compated to other sites in Canterbury. A reminder that the World Health Organisation guideline is 25 µg/m3:

Date Timaru Waimate Geraldine Ashburton Christchurch
Woolston
Kaiapoi Rangiora Broomfield School Bloomfields Preschool
1/02/2021 3 3 3 5 4 4    
2/02/2021 6 5 5 3 3 4 4 5  5
3/02/2021 6 4 4 3 4 4 4 3  3
4/02/2021 5 5 5 4 6 5 5 5 5
5/02/2021 6 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 4
6/02/2021 3 3 3 1 1 1 1 1 2
7/02/2021 5 3 4 2 4 4 4 4 4
8/02/2021 7 6 5 4 6 5 5 3 2
Update 31: 8 February 2021

As of yesterday, the entire site of the fire is now covered with soil and the last of the smoke emissions have ceased. See photos below:

Amberley tyre stockpile
Amberley tyre stockpile
Update 30: 6 February 2021

Work on the site has continued today, and will continue over the rest of the weekend. See photo below.

Groundwater samples have been sent for expert analysis, and we have requested an expedited process. We hope to have the results by the end of next week (12 February).

Surface samples were taken yesterday (Friday) at a vineyard and several private properties. The samples will also be sent away for expert analysis. We do not yet have a timeframe for the return of these results.

Amberley tyre stockpile
Update 29: 5 February 2021
  • Work continues on site to make it safe and stable, as evidenced by the photo above, taken today. Some tree felling has occurred to allow access around the entire site of the fire. We will continue to update with progress photos over the weekend.
  • We have also now received recommendations from external experts for the interim cover system required to protect groundwater between now and the time when the remains can be removed and disposed of appropriately, and the site remediated. This advice will allow us to move to the next stage of the plan. 
  • The latest air monitoring data is shown in the table below, as compared to other sites in Canterbury. A reminder that the World Health Organisation guideline is 25 µg/m3:
Date Timaru Waimate Geraldine Ashburton Christchurch
Woolston
Kaiapoi Rangiora Broomfield School Bloomfields Preschool
1/02/2021 3 3 3 5 4 4    
2/02/2021 6 5 5 3 3 4 4 5  5
3/02/2021 6 4 4 3 4 4 4 3  3
4/02/2021 5 5 5 4 6 5 5 5 5

We reiterate the following advice:

  • Rinse vegetables and produce before eating.
  • Disconnect rainwater tanks and reconnect after rainfall or hosing of the roof.
  • Consult your GP if you have any health concerns.
Update 28: 5 February 2021

We have received reports this morning of smoke odour in Amberley. Residents have asked whether the smoke was from the tyre pile at Racecourse Road.

We do not believe this is the case. Overnight there has been low cloud in the area and northerly winds. While these conditions will have blown smoke from the site in the direction of Amberley, the very low volume of smoke from the fire site means that the smoke being detectable in Amberley is extremely unlikely.

Weather conditions may have made smoke from other sources more readily detected this morning. Worth noting is that we received reports of smoke in Amberley on previous mornings, when the wind was blowing in the other direction (i.e. when the wind was blowing smoke from the tyre fire away from Amberley).

We have dispatched an Incident Response Officer to Amberley to see if the source of the smoke can be identified, and will continue to update the community as we learn more.

Update 27: 4 February 2021

Reminder that there will be a public meeting on Thursday 11 February, 6pm at Amberley Pavilion (The Tin Shed), 50 Douglas Road. We will publish an agenda and other information closer to the time on this page.

What is the latest air quality data?

The PM2.5 concentrations measured at Broomfield School from midday Monday through to today are generally very low, below 10 µg/m3.

For context, the World Health Organisation guideline is 25 µg/m3. The table below shows Broomfield and Bloomfields daily average compared to other monitoring sites in Canterbury towns.

Date Timaru Waimate Geraldine Ashburton Christchurch
Woolston
Kaiapoi Rangiora Broomfield School Bloomfields Preschool
1/02/2021 3 3 3 5 4 4    
2/02/2021 6 5 5 3 3 4 4 5  5
3/02/2021 6 4 4 3 4 4 4 3  3

Please note that the fire is about 2.5km to the east of Broomfield School.

What is the latest water quality data?

We have been collecting groundwater samples from nearby private wells. The samples will be tested for all contaminants of concern (including dissolved metals and organic contaminants).

We do not expect any contaminants to have leached from the burnt tyres yet because no water was used and there has not been recent heavy rain. This sampling allows us to detect any changes arising from potential contamination.

How long will the smoke continue?

The smoke has significantly reduced over the past couple of days. With the covering of the fire beginning today (and southerlies or westerlies predicted over the next few days), we wouldn’t expect concentrations to go much higher.

Please note that in the process of moving soil and beginning the capping process, a small amount of additional smoke may be visible, but this is in response to moving the materials around and not a resurgence of the fire.

If you have any concerns about odours or smoke, please call our pollution hotline on 0800 765 588 (24 hours) and report it. We have extra officers in the area who will be able to attend to learn more.

What is the latest plan for remediation?

Capping of the site of the fire will begin today. Initial work to prepare the site commenced on Wednesday. This is the most important step at this stage. We are consulting a landfill engineer with experience in capping this type of material.

The cap will protect groundwater while a remediation plan is developed for removal of all residual fire-damaged material. The cap is likely to be some form of impermeable barrier.

All material (including that used in capping process) will be removed to a suitably licensed disposal facility, such as Kate Valley. However, metal remaining within the debris may be suitable for recycling.

Update 26: 3 February - public meeting to be held next week

There will be a second public meeting on Thursday 11 February at 6pm, in Amberley. The details are as follows:

When: 6pm February 11th 
Where: Amberley Pavilion (The Tin Shed), 50 Douglas Road
Who: Environment Canterbury and Hurunui District Council. 

Update 25: 3 February 2021

We answer below some of the questions raised by the community over the past few days. 

How long will the smoke continue?

The current plan is to start capping the fire on Thursday 4 Feb, so any residual smoke still coming from the site should reduce significantly by the end of Thursday.

What are the potential contaminants in both smoke and ash? 

There are a large number of different contaminants released when tyres are burned in an uncontrolled setting such a this fire. In addition to carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide, it is likely that large quantities of hydrocarbons were released by the fire. There is also likely to be a range of metals present in the smoke, including iron, chromium, zinc and nickel.

However, there is unlikely to be a widespread delivery of contaminants, which will have been widely and thinly dispersed. To reiterate, we have mobile air monitors at both the school and preschool, and are sampling water from 11 local private wells, so will know more when that data has been analysed. Air and water sampling will be science-led, in those locations that are most appropriate, but which serve to provide information and certainty to the entire community. 

Should I be worried about eating the food from my garden?

We will know more in coming days, but if you are at all concerned, you might want to take a cautious approach and wash any food that you plan to eat from your garden. 

Can I still drink the water from my rainwater tank? 

Again, if you are concerned, you might want to take a cautious approach and disconnect the rainwater collection for the time being. We will continue to provide updates as we know more over the coming days.

What is the plan for remediation?

This will be a two-stage process. The first – and most immediately necessary – stage is capping the site to make it safe and stable. We are assessing the specs required for capping, including the amount and type of material to be used. This stage is critical to impede contaminants being directly washed through the soil into groundwater. Second, all material (including that used in capping process) will be removed to the Kate Valley facility.  

How long will the site remediation take?

It is too early to say, but the first stage of capping should be this week. We will continue to update this page with information on timing as we know more. 

Update 24: 2 February 2021

Yesterday we deployed two mobile air quality instruments to monitor average PM2.5 concentrations at the Broomfield School, to the south west of the fire, and at the Bloomfields preschool, 300m north of the primary school. These instruments allow us to measure the concentration of fine particles only (ie, smoke).  

We will conduct a round of sampling of 11 private domestic wells downgradient from the site on Wednesday 3 February. We will re-sample these private wells in the coming weeks. Residents who are on the public water supply are unlikely to be affected. 

We are working with FENZ and the landowner to implement the most effective and timely method of capping the site, with the primary purpose of protecting the groundwater for the community. As FENZ did not use water or foam to put out the fire, contamination (if any) is not expected to have leached far into the soil or water under the site.

We will undertake an investigation of the site after removal of material to ensure that any contamination has been removed and there is no ongoing risk to groundwater. This is the same process as occurred after the February 2018 fire. The landowner continues to work actively with us to minimise environmental harm and the steps required to ensure the site is remediated to remove ongoing risks to groundwater.

We are working to put together best practice advice on a number of issues that are of immediate concern to the community, including the effect of ash and/or smoke on nearby vegetation/food/crops.

Our existing application for the disposal of the tyres to the Waste Minimisation Fund remains with MfE for consideration. We will be talking to MfE about the change from needing funds for the disposal of tyres to needing funds for the clean-up of a contaminated site.

We are planning another community meeting for early next week. Details of date and venue to follow.

Update 23: 1 February 2021
We are working to provide answers to specific questions relating to the tyre fire that were raised at the community meeting on 30 January, and will provide that information on this page as soon as possible.

We continue to work closely with Hurunui District Council, FENZ, CDHB and MfE to manage both the ongoing situation and plans for remediation.

This page will be updated with all relevant and timely information; please continue to check here for the most up-to-date information. 
Update 22: 30 January 2021

A fire broke out at the tyre pile on Friday (January 29).

Statement from Environment Canterbury zone manager northern Andrew Arps

Our focus right now is on managing the fire risk at Racecourse Road.

We are working closely with Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) to understand how long the fire could burn for so we can put plans in place for our next steps.

As soon as it is safe to do so, we plan to cap the site with soil to address smoke and dust emissions, and to minimise rain washing contaminants into groundwater. At a later stage, all contaminated material will be removed to landfill.

We expect the entire pile of tyres – which we understand about 160,000 – will be burnt.

As well as FENZ staff, Environment Canterbury has its own fire crew which is also on-site and will remain so 24/7 until the fire is out.

Environment Canterbury staff will continue to be on-site in the days to come to lead and co-ordinate clean-up activities, assessing its impact, and to prevent any further environmental effects.

Meanwhile, we will continue to work with Hurunui District Council, FENZ and the Canterbury District Health Board to manage the situation and provide updates to the community.

Community meeting tonight

A community meeting will be held tonight, details below.

When: 5pm tonight (January 30)
Where: Amberley Pavilion (The Tin Shed), 50 Douglas Road
Who: Environment Canterbury, Hurunui District Council and Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

Frustration over fire - Statement from Chief Executive Stefanie Rixecker

"We know the community will be outraged at this latest development, and we share that frustration. Environment Canterbury staff have been working extremely hard to progress the removal of the tyres. We have sought to ensure those who created this stockpile met that considerable cost, so ratepayers didn’t have to.

That has included pursuing those responsible through the courts, which has taken time. We have been working with the landowner to develop an acceptable disposal programme and were within a few weeks of a resolution when this incident occurred.

We will be doing all we can to ensure that anyone found responsible is held accountable."

Police arrest

The police have arrested and charged someone in relation to the fire.

Health advice

The Canterbury District Health Board released a warning for smoke and fumes from the fire, which provides health advice.

 

2020
Update 21. 17/12/2020
  • Peter Benden, a director of one of the companies which failed to remove the tyres from Racecourse Road Amberley under an Enforcement Order was sentenced on Wednesday 16 December. 
  • He was fined $36,000 and required to pay $20,000 toward the costs of removing the tyre pile.
  • The Press published a story about it.
  • We are awaiting the written decision before commenting further.
Update 20. 14/12/2020

Environment Canterbury and Hurunui District Council continue to work together, with the landowner, to address the issue of removing the tyre stockpile from 122 Racecourse Road.

We appreciate the need for urgency expressed by the community, particularly the property’s immediate neighbours, especially as we move into summer. We share the community’s concern and are actively working on pursuing the removal of the tyres.

Environment Canterbury is continuing to pursue parties responsible for the tyres through the courts. Sentencing for the companies and Peter Benden as director of one of the companies, will occur on 16 December 2020. We await any decision that the court may make with regards financial penalties.

In the event of no funding becoming available via court processes, the responsibility for funding tyre removal rests with the landowner.

We are optimistic of receiving financial support from Ministry for the Environment (MfE), with whom we are working on a solution. Any MfE funding comes with obligations that are predicated on responsible disposal of the tyres in New Zealand.

In addition, even if funding is forthcoming, it will not present a total financial solution.

There is currently no practicable option for the tyres to be exported, so a New-Zealand-based disposal option has been developed and costed. Environment Canterbury staff and the landowner have been involved in negotiating with parties required for this disposal plan to be executed, once financing has been confirmed.

The landowner continues to work actively with both councils towards removing the tyres from the property.

This remains a challenging situation for all concerned, including the broader community, but we are doing all we can to achieve a resolution as soon as practicable. We will continue to update this page with new information when it is available.

Update 19. 17/08/2020

There was a defended hearing for a prosecution for a failure to carry out an Enforcement Order to remove the tyres from Racecourse Road Amberley.

The defendants: Tyre Recycling Services New Zealand Limited, Annexure Services Limited and P G Benden have all been found guilty.

At this stage, there is no sentencing date.

Update 18. 28/05/2020

Environment Canterbury is aware that the sentencing on 27 May 2020 of the person responsible for setting fire to the Amberley tyre stockpile in February 2018 will have again brought the issue front of mind for the community.

We share the community’s concern and are actively working on pursuing the removal of the tyre stockpile – as we have been doing for over three years. There are two main strands to our approach.

First, we continue to work closely with the landowner to address the issue of removal, including supporting any efforts that would secure funding to address this issue.

We can confirm the landowner took responsibility for remediation of the contaminated material at the site following the fire, at his cost. Environment Canterbury staff confirmed contaminated material had been removed and that testing showed no areas of concern or risk to nearby bores or public water supply.

Second, Environment Canterbury has sought to make those parties responsible for the stockpile (of around 160,000 tyres) remove them at their cost, and we have pursued legal action with that in mind.

A three-day trial is scheduled to start on 13 July 2020 due to failure to comply with an Enforcement Order to remove the tyres. The issue of who can remove the tyres is also a matter which may be settled by the court.

 

2019
Update 17. 18/11/2019

We have been actively working on pursuing the removal of the tyre stockpile over the past three years and continue to do so. Our approach is to try to make those responsible for this issue address the risk posed by the tyres to the community and the environment, including court action, which is ongoing.

We have been in discussions with the landowner on how to address the stockpile. It is a difficult situation for the landowner, due to the failure of the companies that put the tyres on the property to comply with a court order to remove them by 31 December 2018.

Tyres removal has continued intermittently since 31 December 2018 and we continue to monitor this. To date, we estimate in excess of 40,000 tyres have been removed.

The landowner has worked closely with us throughout this process, has been proactive in investigating solutions to this issue, and has already taken responsibility for the remediation of the contaminated material at the site that resulted from the fire in February 2018.

The largest challenge is funding. We have made a number of enquiries about disposal options, and our preferred option remains baling and exporting the tyres – largely as the other options investigated were more expensive than this option.

We helped the landowner to put forward a request for funding to the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) to support progress of the removal of the tyres, with the potential of baling and removing about half of the tyres, from the Waste Minimisation Fund. Unfortunately, we were not able to secure this funding, as the situation did not meet MfE criteria.

We share the community’s concern and are working hard to find a solution. The matter is continuing before the courts and we will inform the community once more information is available.

Update 16. 29/03/2019
  • Following recent media coverage, we received a query from the landowner regarding the size of the Amberley tyre stockpile, which caused us to review our analysis and undertake follow-up measurements on site. That analysis supports between 120,000-160,000 tyres left on site, and aligns with analysis conducted by a third party on behalf of the landowner.
  • We regret this error – which was due to an incorrect tyre density applied to our drone survey – but it’s important we provide the public with the correct information.
  • We understand there has been some perception that we’ve been tight lipped about the number of tyres. This is not the case. Clearly there is a large number of tyres, but the actual number wasn’t particularly relevant until it became clear that the companies weren’t going to meet the requirements of the court order, which required them to remove all the tyres they put there. We then began work to more accurately assess the number of tyres on site, which took time to analyse.
  • This work was necessary to inform future options for the removal of the tyres.
  • We have taken the steps we have in order to ensure that the parties responsible for the tyres remove them at their cost, minimising the potential impact on ratepayers.
Update 15. 22/03/2019

Environment Canterbury has commenced discussions with the landowner of 122 Racecourse Road on how to address the tyre stockpile located at the property.

North Canterbury zone delivery manager Andrew Arps said that the approach so far has been to try and make those involved in this issue address the risk posed by the tyres to the community and the environment.

“To date, our focus has been on pursuing the companies responsible for stockpiling the tyres, who have been under a court order to remove them. Unfortunately, their actions in doing so have been inadequate,” said Arps.

“We understand this is a difficult situation for the landowner who is also a victim of the poor behaviour by the companies involved, and their failure to abide by the terms of the court order.

“The landowner has worked closely with us throughout this process and has already taken responsibility for the remediation of the contaminated material at the site that resulted from the fire in February 2018."

Environment Canterbury recently undertook a survey of the tyre stockpile in order to get a more accurate estimate of the number of remaining tyres.

“We now believe the number of tyres remaining in the stockpile to be around 450,000. The plans being developed to address the stockpile will use this new estimate – considerably greater than the 120,000 estimate previously submitted to the court by the companies involved,” said Arps.

“We are continuing to investigate our options for further action against these companies."

Update 14. 26/02/2019

We sympathise with the community's concerns at the risks posed by the tyre stockpile at Racecourse Rd and we are actively working alongside the Hurunui District Council to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

The focus of our efforts to date have been to have the parties responsible for the stockpile remove it at their cost.

Two companies are under a court order to have the tyres removed by 31 December 2018. They are continuing to remove the tyres but have failed to meet this deadline.

We are now working through what further steps we can take to have this addressed, including looking at further legal action.

We are investigating all options to have the stockpile removed as quickly as possible, however given the scale and the cost of the removal, it is taking time to assess the options available.

Security measures remain in place at the site which is being maintained by the landowner.

 

2018
Update 13. 17/12/2018
  • Testing of the soil at 122 Racecourse Road identified no areas of concern or risk to nearby bores or the Hurunui public water supply.
  • Environment Canterbury and Hurunui District Council staff have continued to monitor the removal of tyres from the stockpile which Tyre Recycling Services Limited and 2016 Tyre Shredding Limited are under a court order to have removed by 31 December 2018.
  • While tyres are continuing to be removed, we expect that a significant pile remains.
  • We are currently reviewing all options open to us to have the risk of fire from the remaining tyres removed by the responsible parties, including further legal action.
Update 12. 13/11/2018

Environment Canterbury staff have checked the site at 122 Racecourse Road and confirmed that the contaminated material has been removed.

The work is now complete, pending test results to ensure there is no contamination of the soils below the level of the excavated material.Amberley fire clean up

Update 11. 2/11/2018

The landowner has confirmed to Environment Canterbury that the remediation of the burn site at 122 Racecourse Road will begin on November 5 and anticipates that it will be complete by November 10.

The remnants of the burnt tyres and any contaminated soil is going to Kate Valley landfill, and any recyclable metals to Sims Metals.

This work will not conflict with the tyre removals being undertaken by Tyre Recycling Services Limited and 2016 Tyre Shredding Limited, who have until the end of 2018 to remove all of the tyres.

If the companies fail to meet the 31 December 2018 deadline, then we are able to consider further enforcement options at that time.

Update 10. 20/09/2018

Environment Canterbury has been monitoring tyre removal following the issuing of the court enforcement order (see update 7 below).

The removal of tyres has been slower than the plan put forward by the tyre owner. This has been due to both machinery issues (which we have independently verified) and weather conditions.

We are keeping in close contact with the director of 2016 Tyre Shredding and there has been an uplift in the removal rate recently.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely,

Update 9. 31/08/2018

Environment Canterbury has been monitoring tyre removal following the issuing of the court enforcement order (see update 7 below).

The removal of tyres has been slower than the plan put forward by the tyre owner. This has been due to both machinery issues (which we have independently verified) and weather conditions.

We are keeping in close contact with the director of 2016 Tyre Shredding and there has been an uplift in the removal rate recently.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely,

Update 8. 28/06/2018

The removal of tyres from the Amberley site commenced on 7 May 2018.

Environment Canterbury, with help from the landowner, has been actively monitoring the removal of tyres – including inspections of the facility they are being shipped to.

We will continue to work with the owner of the tyres to ensure that the removal of the tyres is carried out as per the conditions set out in the court order.

Update 7. 1/05/2018
A stockpile of more than 120,000 tyres at a North Canterbury property will start being removed next week.Public concerns over the stockpile were heightened after part of the stockpile caught fire on February 26.
On April 24, the Environment Court issued enforcement orders directing Tyre Recycling Services New Zealand Limited and 2016 Tyre Shredding Limited, both of which were involved in stockpiling tyres at Amberley, to remove them all by 31 December 2018.
The orders provide for a staged removal with certain quantities by specified dates, as well as ensuring the tyres closest to the tree lines are removed first which will help remove the risk to the environment.
Environment Canterbury senior manager service delivery Nick Daniels said the enforcement orders meant the removal would cost the companies, not the ratepayer.
The staged removal, which is due to start next week, will mean tyres will be removed weekly over the coming months, with each removal helping to minimise the risks associated with the stockpile.
“The enforcement orders were granted in response to Court action filed by Environment Canterbury in December 2017. Since initiating the action, Environment Canterbury has worked closely with the companies involved, as well as the landowner and Environment Court, to develop the agreed removal programme,” he said.
“It’s important tyres are disposed of properly as storing them can be problematic as they can leach contaminants and potentially become a fire hazard,” Daniels said.
“We’ll monitor the rate of removal, as well as the safe delivery and storage at an agreed destination for further processing - which is a warehouse in Christchurch.”
Daniels said Environment Canterbury was working with the landowner to remediate the property by removing contaminants from the fire, and the landowner would continue to monitor the site for unauthorised entry with security cameras.
Environment Canterbury will continue to work with Hurunui District Council on the removal programme until the stockpile is removed.
More information about the fire at the site can be found here.
Update 6. 11/04/2018
Air quality scientists at Environment Canterbury have completed modelling of the events of the 26-27 February fire, and the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) is comfortable that the right health advice was given at the time.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink said, “The review of information regarding the tyre fire near Amberley in February 2018, supports public health advice given at the time to close all windows and doors to prevent smoke from entering buildings. 
"By limiting their exposure to the smoke it is the CDHB’s view that it is highly unlikely that the public will experience ongoing health effects.” 
Update 5. 29/03/2018

We are working closely with the landowner to develop a plan for them to remove the burn waste from the property in a safe manner.

We have confirmation that the contaminants from the fire/burnt tyres/waste can go to Kate Valley.

Security remains in place for the time being.

We want the removal of tyres to start as soon as possible.

Under the direction of the Environment Court, over the last two weeks, we have had several meetings with several interested parties about the removal.

As this matter is proceeding before the Environment Court we cannot comment further currently. We will provide an update on this when we can

Update 4. 22/03/2018

We have received the results of the soil sample analysis from Hills Laboratories in Hamilton. The results are currently being looked at by Environment Canterbury contaminated sites scientists, and we expect to be able to update further on this next week.

Security presence remains on site 24/7, no suspicious activity has occurred.

The matter of the removal of the remaining tyre stockpile is still proceeding before the Environment Court so we cannot comment further currently.

Air quality scientists at Environment Canterbury are modelling the events of the fire of 26-27 February, to assess any potential environmental risk as a result of the fire. The modelling work is still ongoing but we expect it to be completed soon, and we will provide an update at that time.

Update 3. 19/03/2018

Security presence remains on site 24/7, no suspicious activity has occurred.

Results of the analysis of soil samples sent to Hills Laboratories in Hamilton for analysis are expected back this week. More information on this will be provided as soon as possible.

The matter of the removal of the remaining tyre stockpile is still proceeding before the Environment Court so we cannot comment further currently.

Air quality scientists at Environment Canterbury are modelling the events of the fire of 26-27 February, to assess any potential environmental risk as a result of the fire. It is expected this work will be completed this week.

Update 2. 12/03/2018

Security presence is still on site 24/7, no suspicious activity has occurred

Soil samples have been sent to Hamilton Hills Laboratory for analysis. Sample results are expected week commencing 19th March.

The matter of the removal of the remaining tyre stockpile is still proceeding before the Environment Court so we cannot comment further currently.

Air quality scientists at Environment Canterbury are currently modelling the events of the night of the fire, to assess any potential environmental risk as a result of the fire of 26-27 February. It is expected this work will be completed next week.

Update 1. 7/03/2018

A public meeting was held on Thursday 1 March, and the main concern for the community is the risk of another fire from the remaining stockpile.

Environment Canterbury has coordinated a security presence to be on site 24/7, continuing on a week-by-week basis. Additionally, the landowner has installed eight motion sensor cameras and signage at the tyre stockpile site.

Environment Canterbury and the Hurunui District Council are continuing to work with the landowner on how best to manage the fire risk left by the stockpile operation, including seeking advice from FENZ on ways of minimising the risk of another fire, i.e. separation of the main pile into smaller piles and other options.

Soil samples from the site of the fire on 26-27 February will be collected and sent away for analysis this week. Environment Canterbury has commenced discussions with Canterbury Waste Services (operators of the Kate Valley landfill) regarding disposal of the contaminated soil.

After samples have been collected, the clay cap will be reinstated and will remain in place until the waste is removed.

Air quality scientists at Environment Canterbury are currently modelling the events of the night of the fire, to assess any potential environmental risk as a result of the fire of 26-27 February. It is expected this work will be completed next week. 

The matter of the removal of the remaining tyre stockpile is still proceeding before the Environment Court so we cannot comment further currently. 

Environment Canterbury is coordinating the activities in response to the fire including sampling of the site of the fire, disposal of contaminated material and immediate site security. These activities are expected to be funded by a number of parties, however the details of which entity funds which aspects have yet to be finalised.

Regulatory authorities nationally continue to be concerned about the risk posed stockpiling end-of-life tyres. A lot of work is taking place on the issue, you can find out more at the below links:

For more information can be found on our news page.