A hazardous substance (or dangerous good) is generally defined as any substance that is explosive, flammable, corrosive, oxidising or toxic. Any substance that exceeds the threshold for one or more of these properties is considered hazardous and has the potential to cause serious harm to people and land.
Whether used in private residential homes or as part of commercial or industrial activities, hazardous substances require special controls in relation to the manufacture, use, and disposal of these substances. The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996 governs the controls of hazardous substances, which is determined by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). These controls are to protect the environment and health and safety of people and communities. Risks can be minimised if substances are stored, used, and disposed of, correctly.
If you deal with hazardous substances you must comply with the HSNO controls and any local rules set out in your local Council’s District Plan. Different classifications of substances determine the specific controls required. For lists and classifications of hazardous substances, check out the EPA website.
If you are planning to store, use or dispose of hazardous goods, you will need approval from EPA. The Council will check Building Consent applications, and may require that an EPA approved Test Certifier issue you with a Test Certificate or relevant license to confirm that you are compliant with the requirements of HSNO Act, as a condition to a Building Consent. You can find local Test Certifiers EPA website.
Bylaws in the District Plan may also outline hazardous substance controls within different zones of your area. If you are planning to change the use of a building that involves hazardous substances i.e. factory manufacturing a new type of product, check with the planning unit and the environmental health unit of your local Council in regards to the storage, use, and disposal of the hazardous goods. It is your responsibility as an owner to take steps to comply with the HSNO Act, including obtaining a Test Certificate or license where required. More information can also be found at the Waikato Regional Council website (www.waikatoregion.govt.nz).
Everyday items and many household products can also be classed as hazardous substances and need to be managed safely. Always follow instructions on the label and packaging for storage, use, and disposal of your household products. Swimming pool chemicals, LPG gas bottles, fuels, paint and dive tanks at residential properties require careful risk management.
For further information please contact the Environmental Health Unit of your local Council.