Record fine for dumping demo waste

WRONG: Two companies have been fined for dumping earthquake demolition waste at a Coutts Island site.
WRONG: Two companies have been fined for dumping earthquake demolition waste at a Coutts Island site.

A record-breaking fine has been imposed on companies for dumping contaminated earthquake demolition waste in Christchurch.

In a decision released publicly today, Judge Paul Kellar imposed a fine of $153,625 on Canterbury Greenwaste Processors, Coutts Island Holdings and Kingsley Robert Kepple for dumping and receipt of 5000 cubic metres of contaminated waste to form a track at a Coutts Island site.

The waste was delivered by Canterbury Greenwaste Processors, of which Kepple is a director, to the farm property owned by Coutts Island Holdings, which used it to build a farm track.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) staff inspected the property on March 21 last year.

They found a farm track about 1000 metres long by 10m wide, and half-a-metre deep comprised of mixed demolition waste.

Brett Aldridge, ECan's regional manager resource management act monitoring and compliance, said the waste had not been screened for contaminants and contained asbestos, electrical and computer parts, plastics, carpet, and assorted unprocessed material from the unsorted demolition of several central business district buildings.

He said the temptation for those in the demolition and waste industry to save costs and increase profits by inappropriate waste disposal was of great concern.

He hoped the penalties would act as a deterrent to others in the industry and help ''prevent a legacy of post-quake contaminated sites''.

The company have not removed the waste at this point. However, they have agreed to mitigate adverse affects, such as ensuring none of it goes into the nearby stream, and are in the process of applying for a resource consent to allow them to leave the waste on site.

In the district court decision, Kellar states: ''The lawful and appropriate disposal of demolition waste from Christchurch and the wider Canterbury area is critical to restoring the city and its surrounds to its former glory. It is also critical that the final receiving environment for demolition waste is lawful and appropriate. Short cuts cannot be taken to avoid the cost of disposal and to conceal dump sites.''

Judge Kellar imposed total fines of $153,625 and court costs of $13,569, a Canterbury record for this type of offending, which is split between the parties.

Aldridge said: ''We are increasingly being contacted by people in the industry who feel they have a moral duty to tell us what's going on.

''This level of penalty will send a strong message to demolition contractors that the risk is not worth it.''

The Press