Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Ex-manager buys site of deadly blast

Nearby residents say ill feeling remains for man fined over 2008 cool store tragedy.
Wayne Grattan, the Icepak Coolstores managing director who was personally fined $30,000 for his part in the tragedy.
Wayne Grattan, the Icepak Coolstores managing director who was personally fined $30,000 for his part in the tragedy.

The former managing director of a cool store that exploded, killing a firefighter and injuring seven others, has bought the site and intends to build housing.

The derelict site at Tamahere, just south of Hamilton, was the scene of a devastating explosion and fire in April 2008 which killed firefighter Derek Lovell and seriously injured his colleagues.

On Thursday, Bayleys sold the 21,154sq m block of land at auction for $865,000 to Wayne Grattan, the Icepak Coolstores managing director who was personally fined $30,000 for his part in the tragedy.

Icepak Coolstores was also fined $37,200 and ordered to pay $95,000 reparation, while Mobile Refrigeration Specialists, which was contracted for services at the Tamahere site, was fined $56,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $175,000.

Halls Group purchased the majority shareholding of Icepak which included the Koppens Rd site in February, but sold the land three months later because residents did not want another business at the site.

Waikato District Council has now rezoned it for lifestyle property.

Bayleys commercial manager Richard Graham said Grattan intended to subdivide the site for housing.

"That would be great for the community. It's in keeping with the surrounding area and I think a lot of the neighbours would be quite happy to see that happen," Mr Graham said.

Under the district plan at least three lifestyle blocks are possible at the site, and a fourth with an exemption, Mr Graham said.

Resident Philippa Stevenson said she was upset and disappointed Grattan bought the Koppens Rd land.

"I think his insensitivity and callousness is breathtaking.

"He's flashing his cash to pay $865,000 for that site when they made part of their company that owned that site insolvent, at the time when they were being asked for compensation for the eight firemen."

At the time of sentencing in 2009, Icepak Coolstores indicated it was insolvent after paying for the clean-up costs of the Tamahere site.

Neighbour Arnold Koppens said ill feeling toward Grattan still lingered.

Grattan did not return Herald calls.

- NZ Herald

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