A Bay of Plenty company has been fined $40,000 after almost 150 litres of hydraulic oil spilled into the Tauranga Harbour.

Specialised Container Services (Tauranga) Limited faced a significant fine after it admitted discharging about 150 litres of hydraulic oil from the Sulphur Point Wharf site on September 21 and 22 last year into a nearby stormwater catchpit, where it then flowed into the Tauranga Harbour.

This discharge had adversely affected the harbour and the oil was expected to persist in the harbour for one to two years before it biodegraded.

Last month, Judge David Kirkpatrick heard sentencing submissions from the council's lawyer Adam Hopkinson and the company's lawyer Janette Campbell in the Environment Court last month.


In his written judgment released to the Bay of Plenty Times, Judge Kirkpatrick said the undisputed matters of this case indicated "serious deficiencies" by the company.

Judge Kirkpatrick said he did not accept the defence counsel's submissions that the defendant's lack of knowledge of the spills on the day reduced its culpability.

"Given its location and the nature of its work, the defendant should have had appropriate systems, including better checking and maintenance of its equipment and better training of its staff, to prevent or otherwise deal with spills of this kind."

Judge Kirkpatrick said when compared with similar cases, a fine of $40,000 was appropriate after allowing discounts for a guilty plea and co-operation.

The judge ordered 90 per cent of the fine to be paid to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.