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Air And Wastewater Discharges Lead To $130,000 In Fines For Ziwi Limited

Pet food manufacturer, Ziwi Limited, has been fined $66,000 for discharges of odour, and $64,000 for discharges of process wastewater from its pet food factory at 18 Boeing Place, Mount Maunganui.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council prosecuted Ziwi for both odour and wastewater discharges in 2018. Ziwi pleaded guilty.

Odours generated by Ziwi have led to a significant number of complaints from the local community. From 2008 to 2017 Regional Council received 224 complaints from the public about discharges of odour from the Ziwi site. The odour prosecution was based on odour discharges on five separate dates and followed earlier enforcement action:

  • On 25 November 2016 Regional Council issued an abatement notice requiring Ziwi to stop discharging offensive and objectionable odour in breach of the Regional Air Plan.
  • In 2017 Regional Council issued four infringement notices to Ziwi regarding abatement notice breaches on 24 January, 9 May, 30 May and 2 June 2017.
  • On 8 February 2018 Regional Council issued Ziwi a formal warning regarding verified offensive and objectionable odours detected on 7 and 25 September 2017.

Despite these steps, odour complaints from the public continued and on five occasions (on 12 June, 20 June, 19 September, 24 September and 18 October 2018) when Regional Council officers responded to these complaints they found the odour from Ziwi’s pet food factory to be objectionable or offensive.

The people who complained described the odours as “putrid”, “horrible”, “rank and “over-powering.”

Separate complaints were made to the Regional Council in April 2018 about discharges from the Ziwi site into the city’s stormwater network, which drains into the Tauranga Harbour. Further investigation by Regional Council revealed that process wastewater from Ziwi’s wash bay was being discharged into an onsite stormwater catchpit, which drained directly into the nearby open stormwater drain.

In response to these inspections, Regional Council filed charges against Ziwi for wastewater discharges on 19 and 20 April and 13 November 2018.

Regional Council’s Compliance Manager, Alex Miller says both prosecutions highlight how important it is for companies to be mindful of their environmental impacts.

“These cases demonstrate the seriousness of discharges which encroach on the community’s ability to enjoy their neighbourhood and impact our waterways.

“The fines in these prosecutions are an excellent outcome and will hopefully serve as a strong deterrent for further discharges,” Mr Miller says.

Tauranga City Council’s Environmental Programme Leader, Radleigh Cairns reiterates how critical it is for industries to understand their responsibilities and take a leading role in improving what is discharged into the stormwater network.

“Our stormwater network is designed for rainwater and goes straight into streams, the harbour and ocean. It’s essential that both business and the community dispose of pollutants and waste properly so they are kept out of the stormwater system to protect our environment and wildlife,” Mr Cairns says.

Judge Kirkpatrick concluded in his wastewater sentencing decision that Ziwi’s staff took on an “out of sight, out of mind” approach by flushing industrial washdown water into the municipal stormwater system. He said, “it is not difficult to understand the extent to which every discharge, no matter how small, may have cumulative effects across the catchment and through time.”

The Regional Council encourages anyone experiencing objectionable odours or other pollution matters to call the Pollution Hotline on 0800 884 883.

For more information on environmental enforcement and to view the sentencing decisions, please visit our website, www.boprc.govt.nz/environmental-enforcement

Under the Resource Management Act, regional councils unitary and territorial authorities have primary responsibility for compliance, monitoring and enforcing the Act to help manage natural resources and protect the environment.

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