A finding by the Environment Court that the cumulative effect of low level unpleasant odour can be considered objectionable is being labeled a “landmark” case by Environment Waikato.
The spill occurred in the early hours of March 10, when holding ponds at the company’s Te Kuiti site ruptured, allowing meat processing effluent to discharge into the Mangaokewa Stream.
Effluent subsequently entered the Te Kuiti town water supply, which is fed by the stream and had to be shut down for several days.
The council filed a charge against TKMP at the Te Kuiti District Court this week, after its Regulatory Committee decided prosecution was an appropriate course of action.
“Although we regret having to take this step, this was a serious incident with a high profile and significant impact on an entire town for several days,” Environment Waikato complaints and enforcement manager Rob Dragten said.
“Based on our investigations and the legal opinion we have obtained, an offence has been committed and prosecution of the company is the right thing to do.
”Our investigation identified that the company had been aware for some time of the risks associated with the ongoing use of their effluent system and though steps were being taken to address the problems, it did not act promptly enough.”
Mr Dragten acknowledged the significant effort and expense TKMP had put into mitigating and remedying the effects of the spill after it occurred.
“However, we believe that the failure of the pond was foreseeable and could have been provided against by the company,” he said.