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Published: 2003-10-16 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is not intending to prosecute a Te Aroha skin processing company for an illegal effluent discharge, in recognition of its previous good record and willingness to take prompt action to clean up the spill.

The general manager of Te Aroha Skin Processors Pat Bennett yesterday claimed a decision by Environment Waikato on Tuesday to prosecute his company could bankrupt the firm. However Environment Waikato’s Regulatory Committee did not decide to prosecute and had instead issued a warning, a decision which Mr Bennett had been already advised of.

Mr Bennett also claimed his company had already paid $4500 to Environment Waikato. Regulatory Committee Chairman Jim Howland said the company had not been invoiced for the costs of the investigation so far. The company had expressed its willingness to meet the costs so that the ratepayer did not carry the burden for its mistake.

He said the discharge of effluent to a waterway in August, when a complaint was made about a number of dead eels found in a drain, was considered serious as it had had a significant effect on downstream aquatic life for more than 500 metres. The incident needed to be balanced against the company’s good track record.

Under law, enforcement and prosecution hearings were always conducted with public excluded to protect the privacy of those affected and maintain legal privilege, he said.