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Published: 2014-11-10 00:00:00

Morrinsville company Orion Haulage Limited has been convicted and fined $32,400 for illegally discharging a combination of dairy farm effluent and dairy byproducts into a stream.

The case, brought by Waikato Regional Council, arose from a complaint of contamination of a Walton waterway in October 2013.

Council staff inspected the stream and found it to be cloudy and smelling of effluent. They tracked the stream back to a nearby dairy farm where they found a combination of dairy farm effluent and whey permeate discharging from an effluent pond directly on to the banks of the stream.

A subsequent investigation showed the farm’s effluent management was the responsibility of Orion Haulage Limited, which held resource consent to spread the dairy by-products on to the farm subject to certain conditions.

The court heard the company’s careless approach to managing the pond levels allowed for the pond level to raise to the point of overflowing allowing the contents of the pond to reach the stream.

In a recently released sentencing decision, Hamilton District Court Judge Melanie Harland stated: “The defendant did not have in place an appropriate call-back or call-up contingency plan in place. Having been told that the pond was almost full and having identified that the tractor used to irrigate the pond was unavailable to its employee, the defendant should have followed the matter up later the same day or at least the next day.”

Council investigations manager Patrick Lynch said: “This case highlights the fact that even when a farm has good infrastructure in place, there is still a great need for that system to be managed at all times to prevent these types of discharges to the environment.”