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Polluter Pays

Polluter Pays

24 March 2005

An East Tamaki hazardous waste collection and disposal company was ordered to pay over $21,000 in fines and court costs for polluting the Otara Creek and surrounding land.

The ARC prosecuted Medi-Chem Waste Services Ltd for repeated problems at the company’s site that culminated in two separate contaminated discharges on 10 March 2004.

The first discharge occurred when a tank containing a dye solution was punctured by a fork-hoist and flowed off-site taking other pollutants with it. The company had failed to keep closed an isolation valve in the site’s stormwater containment system, allowing the solution, and heavy metal contaminants on the site, to escape to the creek.

The second discharge occurred when sediment, containing heavy metals, flowed off the company’s rear yard onto a neighbouring property.

Heavy metals can enter the food chain and affect life in the Otara stream and the wider environment of the Tamaki Estuary.

ARC Environmental Management Chair, Dianne Glenn, says the Otara Creek flows into the Tamaki Estuary and has had a chequered history in terms of water quality problems from industrial sources.

“The ARC, Manukau City Council and community groups such as the Tamaki Estuary Protection Society have invested considerable efforts in recent years towards improving the environmental quality of the Tamaki Estuary.”

ARC Team Leader - Compliance and Enforcement, Michael Le-Roy Dyson says Medi-Chem failed to comply with the Resource Management Act despite the ARC’s advice, instruction and the issuing of two Environmental Infringement Notices as a result of previous pollution incidents.

“It is very disappointing that although the required controls had been installed at the ARC’s request, they were not operated at the time of the spill,” he says.

Judge McElrea has ordered Medi-Chem to file an application for resource consent with an independent risk assessment in regard to the discharge of contaminants onto land. The company has also agreed to clear rubbish from the tributary below their stormwater discharge point 50 metres upstream and 50 metres downstream and undertake further sampling of the estuary below their outfall point.


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