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Bridgeman Concrete fined for waste discharges

June 6, 2002

Bridgeman Concrete Auckland Ltd has been ordered to pay $14,230 in fines and costs for discharging waste from their Papakura concrete batching plant.

The company had pleaded guilty and the sentence, relating to an incident in July last year, was handed down by Judge McElrea last week.

On 9 July 2001 ARC Pollution Control Officers were undertaking an environmental audit of a site adjoining Bridgeman Concrete when they noticed a discharge from a stormwater pipe entering the watercourse at the rear of the site.

The bed of the watercourse was completely covered with a white/ grey deposit for approximately 150 metres. This appeared to be the result of a discharge of cement-laden wastewater.

The ARC officers visited Bridgeman Concrete and found that concrete wastewater from the sites settling system was being deliberately pumped from the recycling ponds into the stormwater drain to allow for the clean out of sediment and aggregate from the bottom of the settlement ponds.

The highly alkaline wastewater from this clean out procedure consequently entered a tributary of Hayes Creek, which eventually enters the Manukau Harbour.

No aquatic organisms, alive or dead were discovered during the course of the ARC’s investigations, however it has been found that streams contaminated with significant quantities of this type of waste generally contain little to no aquatic life.

In his findings Judge McElrea said the facts of the case were remarkably similar to the Case of ARC v Fletcher Concrete Industries dealt with by him previously”. In both cases an aggravating fact was that pollution had been occurring prior to the event which led to the prosecution.
Judge McElrea fined the company $11,000 for discharging the contaminants and also ordered the company to pay $582 in legal costs. The company agreed to pay $2633.07 in Council costs incurred in investigation and analysis.

The Judge ordered 90% of the fine to be paid to the ARC but remarked that this was no windfall for the Council as the figure only just covered Council’s cost in bringing the prosecution.

In conclusion, Judge McElrea pointed out in sentencing that Bridgeman Concrete should regard this case as providing lessons to be learnt not only in the management of the Papakura site but at all sites throughout New Zealand.

If prosecuted at any site in New Zealand in the future it can expect the court to observe that the company itself and not just the plant manager have been put on notice by the court that they are required to ensure compliance with the Resource Management Act at all sites.


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