The Port of Tauranga has been accused of allowing what a witness described as "thick brown sludge" to wash into Tauranga Harbour during recent rain.

Last Friday, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council lodged an abatement notice against the port over the alleged July 14 discharge of contaminated stormwater.

Yesterday, port chief executive Mark Cairns told the Bay of Plenty Times the port was appealing the abatement notice "on a number of grounds" and he could not comment further.

According to the notice, the council was tipped off by a complaint about "thick brown sludge" discharging into Tauranga Harbour from berth 11 on the Mount Maunganui side of the port.

Advertisement

An enforcement officer who went to inspect the site saw "discoloured stormwater" washing over the edge of the wharf into the harbour, with no measures in place to stop or treat it.

The area near the berth was being used to load logs on to a ship and he saw log debris around.

The officer had a sample of the stormwater analysed and found it contained 1200 grams of "suspended solids concentration" per cubic metre.

To be allowed under the council's environment plan the concentration had to be under 150 grams per cubic metre, except during a 10-plus year storm.

The council said the rainfall did not reach that level.

The port did not have resource consent to discharge "contaminated" water from the berth into the harbour, which made it an offence against the Resource Management Act.

The notice ordered the port to cease the discharge and submit to future compliance inspections.

The port has 15 days to lodge its appeal against the August 24 notice.

Advertisement

The Port of Tauranga recently revealed a profit of $94.3 million last financial year, off the back of record annual earnings and cargo volume increases.