Fouling water costs firm $35,000

By Ellen Irvine

The owner of a liquid waste-removal company fined $35,000 for overflowing contaminated liquid from its sewage-treatment plant is pleased changes have been made to stop it happening again.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council prosecuted Petes Takeaways on three charges related to contaminated liquid overflowing from its sewage-treatment facility in June 2011. The council's pollution-prevention manager, Nick Zaman, said liquid waste overflowed from treatment ponds and eventually reached the Waimapu Stream at Oropi.

"Our inspections of the site revealed heightened levels of faecal coliform contamination in the liquid flowing into the Waimapu Stream," Mr Zaman said.

In December 2011, Petes Takeaways pleaded guilty to the three offences and the court imposed a $35,000 fine at yesterday's sentencing hearing.

The council prosecuted it for allowing liquid waste to escape the treatment ponds and flow overland into a waterway on two occasions in June 2011, and for depositing waste on to land where it flowed into a tributary of Waimapu Stream on one occasion. Both offences occurred after rain.

Petes Takeaways' Peter Harford said the incident had put the spotlight on liquid waste disposal in the region and the council had now made other facilities available.

"Something good always comes out of something bad," Mr Harford told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"Our feeling was there was no alternative. Our company believes that local authorities including Bay of Plenty Regional Council are now aware of the situation within this region, where in the past there have been no other facilities to dispose of liquid waste.

"Since this incident there now are other facilities available to utilise if it was to occur again. We have solved a problem that has been around for 40 years, unfortunately it cost me $35,000."

The business was large enough to absorb the fine and would continue operating. It was the company's first offence in 30 years.

Mr Zaman said weather conditions were no excuse for polluting public waterways. Petes Takeaways had not ensured pond levels were low enough to avoid overflow if it rained, and failed to adhere to the conditions of its resource consent by de-watering the bio-solids it stored on site.

"Periods of heavy or persistent rain are not uncommon in the Bay, and this successful prosecution should be a warning to all resource consent holders to adhere to all the conditions of their consent, rain, hail or shine."



- Bay of Plenty Times

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