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March Construction fined for Avon River discharge

November 7 2008


March Construction fined for Avon River discharge.

A Christchurch construction company has been fined after the Environment Court found that March Construction Ltd illegally discharged dewatering water containing high levels of clay into the Avon River near the Swanns Road Bridge, Richmond, on December 6 2007.

March Construction Ltd discharged the clay-filled water into the storm-water system whilst excavating a site for the installation of an underground fuel storage tank.

The company sought to establish a defence under Section 341 (2) of the Resource Management Act (RMA) claiming that its conduct was reasonable in all circumstances and that the event to which the prosecution related was necessary to protect persons and to avoid actual or likely adverse effects on the environment.

Judge Jeff Smith disagreed and stated that there were choices available to the company and there was no evidence that the work could not have continued without the discharge into the river.

The Judge noted that the company was warned by an ECan officer on December 5, 2007, that further measures would be required. The situation was unacceptable because the discharges did not comply with the environmental standards and that levels of contamination were significantly above those permitted. But the company had failed to heed the warning.

Judge Smith imposed a fine of $8000 and made an order for payment of court costs and solicitors fees. He ordered also that 90 per cent of the fine be paid to Environment Canterbury

“This court action sends a strong message about damage being done to local rivers when contaminants are discharged without authorisation and without adequate on-site supervision,”says ECan director regulation Kim Drummond.

“Companies and individuals that are seeking to discharge, but find compliance with permitted activity requirements challenging, should work with ECan to get the necessary authorisations and treatment systems in place prior to work commencing. In order to avoid this type of outcome, they must also continue to monitor the content of the discharges during operations. Taking these steps will assist in the ongoing work to improve the quality of our rivers, for example the River Guardians project.”

“This particular case shows that there are penalties when individuals and companies fail to obtain the necessary consent, or implement the required treatment, and our rivers suffer as a result”, says Mr Drummond.


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