You are currently viewing Processing company fined $102k for Waitoa River pollution
An overview of processing site and Waitoa River. Photo: SUPPLIED/WRC

Processing company fined $102k for Waitoa River pollution

A Waikato industrial processing company has been convicted in the Hamilton District Court for permitting the unlawful discharge of wastewater into the Waitoa River in May 2021. 

A fine of $102,000 was also imposed by District Court Judge Melinda Dickey in a sentencing decision released yesterday (Monday, 16 October).

Waitoa Industrial Estate Limited operates an industrial processing site in Waitoa, 10 kilometres west of Te Aroha. Due to a series of failings by the company, they unlawfully discharged approximately 2.2 million litres of wastewater over a 46-hour period into the Waitoa River.

As a result of this incident, downstream water user Fonterra Waitoa was forced to shut down its dairy factory processing operations for three days and was unable to supply treated water to the residents of 180 homes in the Waitoa Village.

Waikato Regional Council’s Compliance Manager Patrick Lynch said: “This was a completely avoidable pollution event. The infrastructure on site was not fit for purpose, there were equipment failures and staff errors, which all contributed to a very significant event.

“There has been a huge rise in penalties for environmental offending that has come from recent changes to legislation. If this type of incident was to occur today the company would be facing a maximum fine of $10 million as opposed to the previous maximum fine of $600,000. 

“The Government increasing these penalties so dramatically is a clear message to all to have good infrastructure and manage it well,” Mr Lynch said.