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Wastewater discharges lead to $63,000 in fines

The wastewater discharge caused by construction damage on the Baypark to Bayfair Link Project. Image: Supplied.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has prosecuted CPB Contractors Pty Limited for wastewater discharges caused by construction damage on the Baypark to Bayfair Link Project, resulting in a fine of $63,000.

CPB, as the head contractor with overall responsibility for the project, pleaded guilty in the Tauranga District Court on July 5.

According to the BOPRC, the discharges occurred after one of CPB’s sub-contractors struck an underground sewer pipe while installing stone columns on April 29, 2019.

The error led to about 370,000 litres of wastewater discharged onto Maunganui Road, with an unknown volume entering the Tauranga City Council’s stormwater network.

The wastewater then flowed into a drain underneath the Omanu Golf Course, before running into the Tauranga Harbour.

Following the incident, CPB also worked with a hapū advisory group, comprised of representatives from Ngā  Potiki, Ngāi Tukairangi, Ngāti Tapu and Ngāti Kuku to apologise for the event, and identify how cultural impacts could be addressed.

As a result of this, CPB have committed to $40,000 in environmental restoration works downstream of the discharge point.

BOP Regional Council compliance manager Alex Miller says the prosecution highlights how important it is for meticulous care to be taken during construction projects to avoid environmental impacts.

"This case shows the environmental and cultural flow on effects of wastewater discharges. 

"However, we recognise CPB worked alongside tangata whenua throughout the justice process and the planting programme is a positive response to the charges."

Judge Dwyer says the discharge of raw sewage into our waterways is a well-recognised cultural offence to Māori.

“Such discharges are commonly offensive to the wider community.

“CPB has a comparatively high level of culpability arising out of the failures of both its employees and its own procedures which failed to ensure that a critical safety essential was followed,” Judge Dwyer says.

BOP Regional Council encourages anyone who notices wastewater overflows or other pollution matters to call the 24/7 Pollution Hotline on 0800 884 883.

For more information on environmental enforcement and to view the sentencing decisions, please visit www.boprc.govt.nz/environmental-enforcement

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