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Buried waste gets demolition company in trouble

Buried waste gets demolition company in trouble

A company contracted to demolish earthquake damaged houses in Christchurch have pleaded guilty to two charges of unlawfully discharging contaminates and fined $10,000, as well as being ordered to pay $641 in costs.

Lindsay Builders Ltd was contracted by Arrow International on behalf of Southern Response to demolish residential houses and take the waste material to an approved facility for disposal. On two of the 70 sites they were working at it was confirmed that some of the demolition waste had been buried instead.

“It is hugely important that the disposal of earthquake waste is efficiently managed and monitored,” says Don Chittock, Environment Canterbury’s Acting Director Resource Management. “If it’s not, and it’s irresponsibly dumped or buried there is potential for some serious environmental effects in both the short and longer term.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the considerable resources Lindsay Builders put into investigating its sites and putting in place a comprehensive remediation programme as soon as the issue was identified. However, the shortcuts taken by their staff member are unacceptable and there are consequences for that.”

Judge J E Borthwick noted during sentencing that if it wasn’t for the defendant’s prompt attention, there was a risk of ground water contamination on one of the sites. He also pointed out that in pleading guilty the defendant accepted that it did not take all reasonable steps to prevent the commission of the offence.

“Ultimately it is the company and director who are responsible for the culture and systems that support their business operations,” says Mr Chittock. “They are the ones who need to make sure the rules are being followed by their employees, especially given the quantities of waste generated through the deconstruction and rebuild of greater Christchurch.”

Mr Chittock says he is satisfied with the outcome in this case but adds any burial of waste, regardless of the quantity, is a serious matter. Any other company, big or small, found to breaching the rules will also have action taken against them.


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