A Pukekohe poultry farm manager has been sentenced to 360 hours community work after pleading guilty to unlawfully discharging chicken effluent to land and breaching an abatement notice requiring him to stop unlawful practices.
As part of the prosecution Environment Waikato also sought, and was granted, an Enforcement Order to ensure the appropriate clean up of the site to mitigate any on-going environmental effect.
In the Auckland District Court, Judge Fred McElrea noted a $35,000 fine would have been an appropriate starting point for fixing a penalty given the type of offending by Amzad Ali at the poultry farm in Buckland Road.
However, a pre-sentencing report recommended community work, noting that Ali already had outstanding fines of about $17,000 from an earlier RMA prosecution relating to similar offending on the site.
A summary of facts from Environment Waikato outlined a history of effluent management problems at the farm, an indoor battery hen operation producing eggs for local markets.
The effluent disposal system was described as “rudimentary”. EW staff visited the property on 10 November 2008, observing that floors beneath chicken cages were unsealed and that there were faults with a shed for storing effluent. This situation indicated little had changed from an earlier visit in October.
“A thick layer of effluent remained on the chicken shed floors beneath the cages. Chicken effluent was stockpiled over land surrounding the chicken sheds and had ponded in places,” the summary of facts said.
“It was clear that the contaminants arising from the discharge of the chicken effluent could seep into ground water sources and travel overland in wet weather into a nearby stream.”
During a follow up inspection on 26 November it was noted that large amount of effluent remained beneath the cages on the dirt floors.
Attempts had been made to shift stockpiled effluent from the storage shed but the defendant “had simply shifted it from one area to another creating considerable risk that the effluent may run directly into the nearby stream during periods of wet weather”.
Environment Waikato enforcement spokesperson Patrick Lynch stated: “The poultry operations on this site have been an on going problem for the local community and the environment for some time. It is unfortunate that it has taken two prosecutions and now a Court Order to resolve these issues. Environment Waikato staff will monitor the progress with the clean up and we are hopeful that it will be completed in a timely and responsible manner.”