Two former directors of a failed piggery operation, which posed a significant risk to the environment, have been convicted and fined thousands of dollars each in the Hamilton District Court.
Former directors Mark Benjamin from Auckland and Bruce MacPhail from Tauranga were convicted and fined $8,000 and $16,875 respectively for failing to comply with a council abatement notice.
Benjamin and MacPhail were directors of Kaimai Pork Ltd, a large commercial piggery operation.
Waikato Regional Council, which brought the prosecution, says it had to put “unprecedented resources” into monitoring the site to help ensure there wasn't a major effluent spill from the operation in the upper reaches of the Kaimai Ranges, north of Te Aroha.
The council became concerned about the effluent management on the site in late 2015 and issued an abatement notice aimed at reducing the risk of piggery effluent entering the environment.
But, over a four month period in 2016, the company consistently failed to meet the requirements of the abatement notice, meaning a real risk of a large amount of effluent entering the environment and the need for a significant council presence on site to help prevent a spill.
“The council placed an unprecedented level of resources into monitoring the site trying to ensure the company responsibly managed the risks of a major effluent spill,” says investigations manager Patrick Lynch.
“Luckily, no such major incident occurred but the lack of compliance with the abatement notice significantly heightened the risks involved.
“We felt that it was important that there was a clear message to company directors, through the court process, that they need to take their environmental obligations seriously and comply with abatement notices.”
Patrick says that ultimately Kaimai Pork Ltd lost financial control of the piggery operation.
Effluent management at the site is now being carried out by the new owners.