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‘More care needed’ as power company fined for oily stream

A Waikato power company has been convicted and fined $31,875 after unwittingly discharging hundreds of litres of oil into a stream at Te Kuiti.

In February this year a number of Te Kuiti residents complained that the Mangaokewa Stream, which flows through their town, was “rainbow coloured” and smelt strongly of oil and petrol.

Following extensive searching by Waikato Regional Council staff it was discovered that the oil was coming from a site owned and operated by The Lines Company. The oil was a waste product that had been incorrectly stored on the site. The vat it was contained in had leaked, overwhelming a catch pit, and the oil had then saturated surrounding soil to the point that it seeped into the stream. 

After a formal investigation, the council initiated a prosecution under the Resource Management Act.

Much more care was needed, the council’s investigations manager Patrick Lynch said after the fine was announced.

“This was a completely avoidable incident for the Te Kuiti community and the wider environment. 

“Industrial sites need to know what hazardous substances they have on site, how they are stored and have effective safeguards in place should things go wrong.”

Mr Lynch acknowledged The Lines Company had done an exemplary job of cleaning up and had been extremely cooperative with the council: “However, businesses such as theirs need to be far more proactive about managing risks.”

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