Sloppy paint disposal on ECan's radar

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 05:00 28/06/2013

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The swelling ranks of Christchurch's painters, now about 8000, has forced Environment Canterbury (ECan) to get tougher on illegal paint waste disposal.

ECan has put them on notice and they face fines of up to $1000 or prosecution if they do not dispose of paint and paint wash, in the three ways it has promoted on its website.

Checks will begin in August after an increase in complaints from contractors and the public about sloppy paint disposal.

Painters are not allowed to wash and dump paint on to grass. Nor are they permitted to pour paint wash water on to the ground or into drains and gutters, which connect into a network of underground stormwater pipes, which discharge into streams and rivers.

The number of painters in Christchurch has ballooned to 8000, compared with fewer than 1500 before the quakes.

If Fletcher EQR estimates are correct most painters are disposing of paint unlawfully. It estimates there are about 8000 painters accredited to it and also working on commercial sites and new homes.

Asked how many Fletcher EQR accredited paint contractors he thought were complying, Fletcher EQR technical adviser Greg Thomas said: "I would say just at the minute that probably a very small percentage, but obviously that will change."

"In actual fact those contractors that are doing work for us they will need to because ECan said they have to."

The campaign was an ECan initiative and Fletcher EQR and other big project management organisations (working for insurers) were just the messengers, Thomas said.

"So we subscribe wholly to that because we think it is a really good culture shift within the industry."

ECan has told painters through its website, that they should have chosen one of three systems to dispose of paint waste lawfully by July, before it begins checks in August.

"...if you do not have a system in place, it could affect your ability to get more work," a brochure on ECan's website said.

ECan team leader implementation and pollution prevention Paul Gofton said the disposal rules were not new.

Discharging paint and paint waste water directly into waterways or on to land, where it is likely to enter drains and then into streams and rivers, was a breach of the Resource Management Act.

"There have been a few contractors where they have been carrying out that behaviour and they have received infringement notices," Gofton said.

For infringement a standard fine was $750 but it could go to $1000, however the requirement to clean up was more expensive than the fine, Gofton said.

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More serious cases could face prosecution by ECan, Gofton said.

ECan said the three options for paint disposal are: Large or small scale contained washing systems; A trade waste licence from the Christchurch City Council; Or contract with another party/business to clean equipment.

"We are getting an increase in calls.

"We are just trying to be more proactive, get the information out to the industry," Gofton said.

"Yes the rebuild is underway but we still think we are in early enough to change behaviours and promote good practice and correct behaviours. Rather than use the enforcement we are trying to encourage and promote best practice and good behaviours in the first place."

If that did not work it would use enforcement.

- The Press

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