Hazardous substances

Learn about the safe storage and disposal of hazardous substances, Council policy on hazardous substances and workplace safety.

Hazardous substances.

Hazardous substances defined

Hazardous substances are chemicals that may be toxic or harmful to people, animals or the environment. These include:

  • corrosives (acids and alkaline)
  • explosives and fireworks
  • flammable liquids (eg fuels, paints and solvents)
  • flammable gases and aerosols (eg LPG and spray cans)
  • flammable solids (eg sodium metal, sulphur, silicon powder)
  • oxidising materials (chlorine, iodine, hypochlorite-bleach, peroxides)
  • toxics (cleaning fluids, pesticides and other garden chemicals).

Council policy

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act sets out the rules that apply across New Zealand. (The Act supersedes the Dangerous Goods Act and other legislation used to control hazardous substances.)

The Council administers the Act in public places and in private dwellings. The Wellington District Plan lists more rules, taking into account different land uses in sensitive environmental areas.

Workplace safety

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is obliged to administer the Act in workplaces.

Safe storage

Safe storage and use of hazardous substances is essential to safeguard the health of Wellington's environment and population.

Storage guidelines

When storing hazardous substances, make sure you:

  • store substances in the correct, upright position in a dry place away from heat or flames
  • keep products in the original containers with the lid on, in a cool place and out of reach of children and pets
  • do not store incompatible substances next to each other (eg keep LPG cylinders away from petrol cans, and keep oxidising products away from any other hazardous substances)
  • follow the instructions on the container or package
  • use all of the product before purchasing more
  • do not use more product than is recommended by the manufacturer
  • clean up spills quickly so it does not spread into the environment - make sure you protect yourself around any spillage
  • find out more about storing liquid petroleum gas, LPG, safely in your home on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.

For more information on safely storing and handling hazardous substances, check the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.

Legal requirements

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act lists the guidelines on storing hazardous substances. To refer to the Act's regulations, you will need to know the classification of the product in question, the volume stored, and the individual container size used. For more information, see: Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 - NZ Legislation

The storage of hazardous substances must also comply with the New Zealand Building Act and the Resource Management Act.


When you dispose of hazardous substances, make sure that you:

  • do not mix the hazardous waste with your normal rubbish or pour it down the sink, stormwater drain or onto the ground
  • read the disposal instructions on the container's label
  • reuse or recycle when possible.

Safe disposal options for household hazardous waste

The Southern Landfill has a facility dedicated to the storage of household hazardous waste and will accept up to 20kg or 20L of hazardous waste: Household Hazardous Waste

Batteries, computers and mobile phones

You can now drop off some e-waste in the central city at the Electronics Recycling - Sustainability Trust if you can't get to the landfill.

Liquefied petroleum gas cylinders

For safe use and storage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders at your home, refer to the following: Using LPG at home - Environmental Protection Authority

Safe disposal of commercial quantities of hazardous waste

For commercial quantities of hazardous waste, ie over 20kg or 20L, you need to contact the regional service providers in liquid and hazardous waste treatment, transportation and disposal about getting your waste collected.

The Council does not accept commercial liquid and hazardous waste for treatment or disposal at the Southern Landfill.

Emptying pool water safely and responsibly

Swimming and spa pool water can contain chemicals such as chlorine and copper. These chemicals 'treat' the water to kill harmful bacteria and/or algae. Treated water discharged into stormwater systems or streams has the potential to harm – or even kill – fish and other aquatic life.

The road outside your property is also connected to the storm water system, so treated pool water should not be emptied into the gutter.

There are two options for disposal of your pool water:

Option 1 – into the sewer 

Wherever possible use Wellington City Council wastewater sewer when draining your pool. The sewer conveys wastewater to a treatment plant which is designed to remove many pollutants from the water. Draining should be done via appropriate plumbing, a gully trap or sink. 

Option 2 – onto land

Discharging pool and spa water onto land is a permitted activity, but some restrictions apply. Before emptying your pool onto land, check the Greater Wellington Regional Council Natural Resources Plan (96MB PDF) for guidance, under Rule R44.

In addition to Rule R44 of the Natural Resources Plan:

  1. Check that no land instability problems (slip, erosion) exist in your immediate area. If they do exist don't use this disposal method. 
  2. Discharge water at a rate to prevent surface or downstream flooding.
  3. Discharge or irrigate the water in a way that it will not enter the stormwater system or natural watercourses. 
  4. Ensure the water does not flow off your property onto neighbouring properties. 
  5. Discharge or irrigate the water so that it won’t create 'nuisance conditions' such as mosquito breeding. 
  6. Do not discharge pool water when it’s raining to reduce the potential for surface and downstream flooding.

Swimming pool / spa chemicals

All pool chemicals should be securely and safely stored under cover so that they cannot be washed into the stormwater system. Any chemicals that are no longer required can be taken to the Southern Landfill.

More information

Hazardous Substance Officer

Phone: 04 499 4444
Email: publichealthenquiries@wcc.govt.nz