Dangerous goods & hazardous substances

This page will inform you about the storage of dangerous goods and and information on hazardous substance leaks or spills.

For more information about hazardous substances, go to the EPA New Zealand website and for information about disposing of household hazardous waste and asbestos, go to our Hazardous waste page.

Storage of dangerous goods

Since the Dangerous Goods Act was replaced by the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 2004, the Council does not have a role in licensing and approving the use and storage of hazardous substances.

This job is now done by Test Certifiers approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). EPA Test Certifiers are private individuals who charge for their services to the business/industry concerned. A Test Certifier advises the company as to the mechanics of achieving compliance with the HSNO Act, and the Council may ask to see written confirmation of this, for instance as a condition for a building consent approval.

The Council's only role for facilities storing dangerous goods comes under the District Plan where limits have been set for the amount, type or usage of certain hazardous substances within different zones such as residential or business zones. 

In the past the Council Dangerous Goods Inspector would follow up on building consents involving dangerous goods with the view to licensing them. However, under the HSNO Act 2004, it is the business or industry's responsibility to obtain any licences (now called a Location Test Certificate) from an EPA approved Test Certifier.

Hazardous substance leaks or spills

The use of hazardous substances is primarily governed by the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 2004 (HSNO).

The threat of a hazardous chemical spill is constant. A number of our industrial sites use and produce hazardous chemicals. Large quantities of chemicals are transported into and through Waimakariri every day. Throughout the Waimakariri District the agricultural industry also uses and stores chemicals and pesticides.

Hazardous substances are often called dangerous goods or chemicals. Under HSNO, many substances that might not seem dangerous are termed 'hazardous'. For example, in large quantities, milk may not hurt people - but a large spill of milk into a stream could harm wildlife.

Hazardous substances are harmful to our health as they can be poisonous, corrosive, flammable, explosive or irritant.  If they accidentally spill, hazardous substances can cause contamination and damage. Most hazardous substance containers are clearly marked with a coloured diamond.

Common household hazardous substances include:

  • aerosol cans (they might explode in heat, e.g. oven cleaners, hairspray or flyspray)
  • bleach and laundry sprays
  • gas leaking from household fittings
  • petrol, LPG gas, BBQ gas cylinders
  • meths, paint thinners, turps
  • garden chemicals and plant sprays.

When storing hazardous substances:

  • keep the containers in a secure cabinet
  • keep the contents in their original containers
  • do not transfer contents into food or drink containers
  • store poisons and corrosive materials in strong, unbreakable containers with tight-fitting lids
  • store out of reach of children.

Leaks or spills

If a major hazardous substance leakage or spillage occurs, you may be evacuated from your area by Civil Defence.

If a minor or local hazard is obvious:

  • move away from the substance (to higher ground, upwind or across wind)
  • do not light your gas stove, candles or cigarettes if you smell or see gas spill
  • report the hazard to Police and/or Fire
  • if in doubt, close windows and doors and stay indoors.

When a man-made hazard occurs:

  • listen to the radio for advice and information
  • stay away from the affected area
  • have an evacuation plan
  • have your survival kit ready.