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Train staff and avoid pollution prosecution

MEDIA RELEASE

Train staff and avoid pollution prosecution

For immediate release: Monday 8 March 2004

A judge’s decision to heavily fine two Bay of Plenty dairy farmers for pollution caused by their employees has sent a clear warning to farmers to train staff well or take the consequences.

Environment Bay of Plenty recently prosecuted two eastern Bay of Plenty farmers for separate offences related to the discharging of dairy effluent into a stream. An Environment Court judge fined one farmer $5000 and the other $3,500 plus costs.

Andy Bruere, Environment Bay of Plenty’s principal compliance officer, says in both cases the pollution resulted from staff not operating effluent treatment systems properly. But, under the Resource Management Act, ignorance “is not a good enough excuse”, he explains. “The law says the owner of the farm is liable for his or her staff’s actions. So it’s very important that farmers train their staff in all aspects of farming, including effluent treatment and disposal. It can cost them a lot of money if they don’t.”

Mr Bruere is pleased the Environment Court has taken “such a serious view” of the matter. The judge even indicated fines may increase if farmers do not get the message, Mr Bruere says. “Most farmers are doing well and we have no problem with them. But there are a few who are not up to standard and they give the rest a bad name.”

Environment Bay of Plenty has created a series of information sheets with details of maintenance schedules for dairy effluent treatment systems. They are laminated and have adhesive on the back so they can be easily put up on the wall of dairy sheds.

The information includes lists of the daily, weekly, monthly and annual checks for farm pond soakage systems, farm pond systems where consents allow discharge to a drain or stream, and farm irrigation systems. For free copies, please call Jo Francis at Environment Bay of Plenty on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267).

ENDS

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