A west coast mining company has been convicted and fined $60,750 for discharging 4000 litres of diesel into a stream last year.
The case was brought against Taharoa Ironsands Limited following multiple complaints of contamination of the Wainui Stream at their mine site near Kāwhia, on Waikato's west coast, in August 2017.
One local resident reported that they had tracked the rainbow-coloured diesel fuel in the Wainui Stream approximately 400 metres out to the Tasman Sea.
Waikato Regional Council responded to the complaints and commenced a formal investigation. The council found that the diesel discharge had occurred in a high-voltage area where access was controlled. Through a series of events, diesel had flowed from a fuel bladder into the site’s stormwater system and then into the stream.
The conviction and fine were imposed this week in the Te Kuiti District Court by Judge Melanie Harland, who stated that the company's activities were "careless, and that its carelessness caused the offending"
The judge noted that the lack of clear communication, failure to follow isolation procedures and restricted access to the high-voltage area had all contributed to the breach.
The council's investigations and incident response manager, Patrick Lynch, said: "This was completely avoidable. Companies that use and store hazardous substances have to ensure they have good infrastructure and procedures in place.
"Accidents can happen. When they do, substances like fuels and oils need to be contained so they do not escape into the environment and cause harm," Mr Lynch said.