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Second significant pollution sentence in one week

Second significant pollution sentence in one week

Within a week the Environment Court issued a second significant sentence under the Resource Management Act (RMA) as a result of a prosecution carried out by the Auckland Regional Council.

The second prosecution was taken against United Environmental Limited, a hazardous and liquid waste treatment company operating in East Tamaki.

United Environmental, which trades as Nuplex Environmental, pleaded guilty to a charge of discharging chemical fume and odour to air that caused nausea and headaches for staff of neighbouring properties.

ARC officers investigated the incident after receiving complaints from the properties next to the plant on 19 June 2002. The investigation revealed that chlorine fumes had discharged from the site as a result of a reaction in a waste treatment process. Judge McElrea concluded that once the discharge had occurred the company had no means of controlling the discharge from the site.

United Environmental was fined $38,000, plus costs of approximately $2,000.

United Environmental Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nuplex Industries. Nuplex Industries was fined $55,000 and costs of approximately $11,000 in an earlier case in the same week.

Of significance was the Court’s orders that Nuplex Industries:

· include details of both the prosecutions in its next annual report, and

· include environmental issues on the agenda of all board meetings for the next 24 months.

This is the first time the Environment Court has ordered a company as part of a conviction to include specific details regarding prosecutions in its annual report.

“It is very unusual to see two prosecutions involving the same parent company in the space of one week. We are generally satisfied with the Court’s findings in both cases,” said ARC Environment Committee chairman Brian Smith.

“Our aim is always to try to work with companies to make them aware of their environmental responsibilities. We do not take enforcement action lightly and prosecution is almost always the last resort. The ARC has recently had a series of positive high level discussions with Nuplex and we are hopeful that this will result in improvements at both their sites,” said Cr Smith.

“We want these industries to be successful as they perform an important and often essential part of the socio-economic needs of the region. However, they must also achieve high environmental standards in doing so. They have a responsibility to be leaders of best environmental practice,” said Cr Smith.

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