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Three companies fined for blasting operation and unlawful earthworks

Three companies have been convicted and fined a total of $103,330 for unlawful earthworks relating to tracking activities and a blasting operation on a dry stock farm near Te Anga. 

The case was brought against Rula Developments, Johnston Drainage and Contracting Company and RedBull Powder Company in December last year following a complaint of sediment contamination of the Tawarau and Marokopa rivers, on Waikato’s west coast.    

On 8 December 2017, a member of the public reported seeing sediment discharging via a culvert into the Tawarau River. Later that same day sediment was observed about 1.1km downstream in the Tawarau River at its confluence with the Marokopa River.

The sediment and rock was discharged into watercourses from earthwork tracking activities and a blasting operation of a limestone bluff in a high risk erosion area.

Convictions and fines were imposed last week in the Hamilton District Court by Judge Dickey, who stated that the actions of Rula Developments “were careless to the greatest degree”. 

In relation to Johnston Drainage she considered its actions to be “careless at the higher end of the scale”, adding that “these were not minor works”. 

While the tasks of RedBull Powder Company were limited to the blasting operation, Judge Dickey found they were nevertheless “careless”. 

The council’s acting investigations and incident response manager, Wayne Reed, said the case was a reminder for businesses to be aware of their responsibilities.   

“When completing such activities where sediment could make its way into water, extra care is required. This case is good example of why earthwork controls should be in place to protect our waterways,” he said.

Blast site of the limestone bluff near the waterfall.

Blast site of the limestone bluff near the waterfall.

Confluence of the Tawarau and Marakopa rivers.

Confluence of the Tawarau and Marokopa rivers.

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