Dairy supply company Open Country Dairy Limited has been convicted and fined more than $35,000 for discharging objectionable odour from its Waharoa factory at the time of last year’s ”spring flush” when milk supply was high.
Residents from the Waharoa community, near Matamata, complained to Waikato Regional Council that the odour was causing physical effects such as nausea, vomiting, and an inability to sleep. Some complainants spoke of having to adapt their lifestyles by keeping door and windows shut, not hanging out washing, leaving Waharoa to escape the odour and keeping children inside.
The council received 45 complaints from local residents over 16 days in October and November last year.
The company told council investigators the odour was a result of infrastructure failures at the factory that saw larger than normal volumes of waste end up in the waste water treatment pond. The pond struggled to cope and the odour developed, with the situation taking some time to recover.
In a recent sentence released from the Hamilton District Court, Judge Melanie Harland commented that the effect on residents of the odour was “profound and continuous”. She also said “this is not a case where the defendant was slow to upgrade or provide adequate infrastructure, but it is a case which highlights the need to provide a buffer for unexpected infrastructure failures despite the infrastructure itself being fit for purpose”.