Sportsfields – Contamination Issues

Turf sportsfields are included in the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) under the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (NESCS) due to the intensive use of agrichemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers.

The potential of having residual soil contamination is greater for sportsfields older than 30 years because of the historical use of a wide range of persistent agrichemicals (e.g. DDT, lead arsenate).

In urban areas, sportsfields are sometimes located over historical landfill sites that were subsequently filled and converted into recreational areas.  Additional fill material sampling might be required if no information regarding the nature and quality of the backfill is available, while landfill gas sampling may also be necessary.

The Auckland Council is involved in a major sportsfield expansion and upgrade programme of approximately 10 years duration.  Field upgrades include the installation of artificial turf, sand carpet replacement, drainage, irrigation system or lighting installation and other activities, all of which involve soil disturbance, trenching and excavation, triggering the NESCS.

In the last two years, Fraser Thomas has carried out many environmental investigations on sportsfields and public reserves within the Auckland region, including new fields/reserves and existing fields/reserves being upgraded.

Many of these investigations require soil sampling to determine the presence of contaminants such as heavy metals, Organochlorine Pesticides (OCPs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the determination of associated consenting requirements and the appropriate disposal facility for any excess excavated materials.  In some cases, sufficient desktop information is available to confirm soil sampling is not needed.  Alternatively, if the chemicals used on the sportsfield are known, we have undertaken specific risk assessments of these chemicals to determine their persistence and hence the need, or otherwise, for soil sampling.  This has generally resulted in avoiding or at least reducing soil sampling requirements.

Expertise provided:

  • Environmental

Project Cycle:

  • Preliminary site investigations
  • Detailed site investigations
  • Risk assessments
  • Management Plans
  • Remedial Action Plans
  • Site validation reporting