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Galatea farm and worker fined for illegal tyre burning

Monday, 16 September 2013 9:00 a.m.

A Galatea farm manager was convicted and fined $3,000 plus court costs for burning tyres, plastic silage wrap and rubbish, which discharged contaminants to air.

The farm manager’s employer, Cool Haven Limited, was also convicted and paid $6,000 in reparation. The company and farm manager Christopher Lee Rugg were each charged with the offence after Bay of Plenty Regional Council received a complaint that black smoke was coming from burning tyres at a farm near Galatea in November 2012.

The complainant reported that a barberry hedge was being burned at the farm, and the tyre burning created a large, dense black cloud of smoke that rose about 100 metres into the sky.

The Regional Council visited the farm and found remnants of a fire that contained about 20 tyres and plastic silage wrap, aerosol cans, lino and general rubbish. Rugg lit the fire through a misunderstanding while his employer was in Wellington.

Mr Rugg’s employer said he did not know there were tyres in the pile, and he had instructed his son to light a smaller fire which did not contain tyres. The farm manager said he did not know it was prohibited to burn tyres.

A Regional Council environmental scientist said air emissions from open burning of tyres included particulates, carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides and volatile organic compounds as well as hazards such as dioxins, benzene, metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury and chromium. The emissions would include highly toxic chemicals known to cause short and long-term health effects, including cancer.

Judge J A Smith said the company and farm manager had readily accepted their offending but were not aware it was prohibited to burn tyres. Rugg commented that while there was education about managing effluent, there was very little education in the farming industry about what materials could not be burned.

Regional Council Pollution Prevention Team Leader Steve Pickles said burning tyres and plastic wrap was prohibited under the Regional Air Plan.

“There can be significant adverse health effects from burning these substances, which emit highly toxic chemicals. In this case it was fortunate that no human health effects were recorded,” he said.

The Regional Council has a guide on its website about what substances can be safely burned on farms.

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Galatea farm burning