WW Plant Likely Cause of Paint Discoloration


Residents from several neighborhoods surrounding the Bromley Wastewater Treatment Plant in New Zealand recently reported discoloration on their homes and properties.

Following testing commissioned by the Christchurch City Council, it is believed that the plant’s stench—more specifically, the hydrogen sulfide—has affected the lead paint.

What Happened

According to New Brighton resident Hayley L'Huillier, who bought her home last year, discoloration was starting to plague its exterior cladding and under the property’s eaves.

“We did clean the front door area when we noticed it building up,” she told reporters from RNZ. “It did come off with soap and water but it had come back within a few weeks.”

L'Huillier went on to note that the paintwork also seemed to be bubbling, implying that in addition to the discoloration effects, the paint itself was also damaged. While a private insurance claim was filed, it was later declined with environmental damage pinpointed as the cause.

In other attempts to solve the issue, L'Huillier said she went to an unnamed paint retailer, who explained that the paint itself was not the issue. As a result of the attempts, she suspected that the staining was caused by the Bromley Wastewater Treatment Plant and took her concerns to Christchurch City Council.

“I don't think we should be out of pocket because of environmental issues that have happened, which were out of our control,” L'Huillier said. She went on to note that cleaning a home commercially was not cheap and that regular maintenance was also expensive, further implying that the council should but chipping in on the fix, or subsidize the cost of cleaning.

After the council commissioned testing with ENGEO on properties reporting similar issues, officials found that roughly two-thirds were likely experiencing a reaction between hydrogen sulfide from the plant and lead in the paint.

However, the council went on to note that the discoloration was only temporary, and the other one-third of homes were seeing discoloration from mold.

“We have been advised that the discoloration is likely to only be temporary, and a 1966 study into the effects of hydrogen sulfide on lead-based paint does not suggest permanent damage to the paint,” a spokesperson said.

Last week, councilors agreed to have a second report commissioned to look at whether it should offer free clean-up for affected residents. An additional $180,000 was also approved to provide more support for schools and targeted help for residents still affected by odors from the wastewater treatment plant.

In the meantime, Don Gould, who has been advocating for stench-hit residents, suggested that some may opt to file a case in the small claims court.

“I expect a flood of small claims unless council is a lot more proactive to address the problems that some of those residents are facing financially,” he said.


Tagged categories: Australia; Cladding; Coating chemistry; Coating Materials - Commercial; Coatings Technology; Exterior coatings; Government; Lead; Lead; OC; Residential; Testing + Evaluation

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