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Businesses fined for burning demo waste

Published: 13/07/2012 2:54 p.m. 

Two businesses have been prosecuted and fined large amounts for releasing contaminates into the air, breaching parts of Environment Canterbury’s Natural Resources Regional Plan (NRRP).

Both Darwin Earthworks Ltd and Heathstock Haulage Ltd appeared before Judge C J Doherty on 18 June at Christchurch District Court and pleaded guilty to burning demolition waste including plastics, treated timber, asbestos in concrete and rubber tyres.

“The rules are there to ensure we have clean air,” says Environment Canterbury Resource Management Director Kim Drummond. “Burning materials like these two companies have done can seriously affect the health and wellbeing of individuals as well as harming the environment.”

Heathstock Haulage Ltd transported demolition material from another site under contract to a separate company. The offending waste was then placed in a pit and burnt each day for six days.

“It appears if we had not been alerted to the issue, then they would have continued on to bury the residue. This would have had the potential to then contaminate ground water and cause further damage to the environment.”

Darwin Earthworks Ltd burnt demolition waste from derelict buildings which they had stockpiled. Environment Canterbury estimated that the three stockpiles were about 100 cubic metres each.

“The prosecution of these two companies is a warning to all businesses involved directly or indirectly with demolition. Materials must be sorted and disposed of in the correct manner, at authorised waste-handling facilities.”

During the sentencing of Heathstock Haulage Ltd Judge Doherty agreed that one of the real issues, and an important purpose of sentencing, is deterrence.

“There ought to be a message to those in this community, particularly given the amount of demolition material that has been occasioned by the earthquake, that prohibited and unlawful disposal will be treated seriously by the Court.”

In both instances Judge Doherty accepted that the localised environmental effects were at the lower end of the scale for environmental cases. However, the cumulative effect that such pollution can have on the wider environment was also acknowledged.

Kim Drummond says he is satisfied with the outcomes in both cases and hopes that other companies, big and small, realise just how serious this kind of offending is and that action will be taken against those found breaching the rules.

Notes to Journalist:

Darwin Earthworks Ltd was fined $11,500 and ordered to pay court costs of $132.89 as well as paying investigating costs and solicitor’s fees to Environment Canterbury totalling $2,291.20

Heathstock Haulage Ltd was fined $16,000 and ordered to pay court costs of $132.89 as well as reparation and solicitor’s fees to Environment Canterbury totalling $3,304.37

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