CRS Tauranga Limited (CRS) has been convicted and fined $86,250 in the Tauranga District Court after pleading guilty to charges of discharging contaminants into Tauranga Harbour.
On five occasions over a three month period in 2019, Bay of Plenty Regional Council officers found discharges of sediment-laden storm water from the CRS site to the storm water system where it then flowed into Tauranga Harbour.
Increased sedimentation is a key issue for Tauranga Harbour. Sediment can have a range of adverse effects on benthic communities and habitats, and on the overall ecological health of the harbour.
CRS had been on notice for the pollution issues since at least 29 August 2018, when a Regional Council enforcement officer inspected the CRS site in response to a public complaint and found discoloured storm water discharging from the site. Abatement and infringement notices were issued as a result.
Judge MJL Dickey found that CRS had “dragged its feet to appropriately address the problem” and did not respond with sufficient urgency or diligence, concluding that the company was highly careless in its approach to storm water management on site.
Her Honour also concluded that the environmental and cultural effects of the offending were moderately serious, and she was particularly concerned with the effects on the local community and matters raised by iwi.
In their victim impact statement, the Whareroa Marae community identified that the sediment discharges had caused damage to Tangaroa and his children, and that was detrimental to the community’s wairua – spiritual and mental wellbeing.
Ngāi Te Rangi said the discharges have disrupted the foundations of Ngaiterangitanga because of the way they interfered with traditional and ancestral connections to place, cultural practices and intergenerational responsibilities.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Compliance Manager Alex Miller said the penalty reflects the impacts of sediment discharges to Tauranga Moana, and sends a stern reminder to businesses that they need to manage and maintain their site to avoid these sorts of discharges occurring.
For more information on environmental enforcement and to view the full sentencing decision, please visit www.boprc.govt.nz/environmental-enforcement
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