Otira Rail Tunnel Cleaning


Otira Rail Tunnel Cleaning



MEM Role:

Planning consultant

A unique project undertaken by KiwiRail to clean the build-up of coal dust from inside the walls of the Otira Tunnel.  This was a five year long project from initial planning to completion of cleaning. This project required the treatment of wash water prior to discharge into the Rolleston River and on-site disposal of waste solids downstream of the tunnel.  Water for the tunnel washing had to be taken from the Bealey River, upstream of the tunnel.

Both the upstream and downstream sites are located within the Arthurs’s Pass National Park, and are environmentally sensitive areas. Consenting work was complex.  Consents were required from both East Coast and West Coast regional and district councils, as well as a NES consent (for disturbance of contaminated land).


MEM input

  • Developing a comprehensive assessment of environmental effects. 
  • Interpreting and presenting the unique nature of the wash water treatment process, and the highly technical aspects of the project, to conservation agencies and the Ngai Tahu runanga.
  • Obtaining a wide range of resource consents on a non-notified basis, including for a non-complying activity in the Bealey River (Environment Canterbury consent).
  • Successfully negotiating resolutions satisfactory to the three affected Ngai Tahu runanga (both West and East Coast runanga).