$10k fine for burying quake waste

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 13:24 07/02/2014

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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A Christchurch company has been fined $10,000 after burying earthquake demolition waste instead of dumping.

Lindsay Builders Ltd was contracted by Arrow International, on behalf of Southern Response, to demolish residential houses and take the waste material to an approved facility for disposal.  

On two of the 70 sites they were working at, it was confirmed some of the demolition waste had been buried instead.

Lindsay Builders Ltd pleased guilty to two charges of unlawfully discharging contaminates in October last year. 

Environment Court Judge Jane Borthwick's sentencing decision, which was released publicly today, fined Lindsay Builders Limited $10,000, plus costs of $641.

She noted the sites had been ''fully remediated'' with no suggestion the offending had resulted in a continuing adverse effect on the environment, but there had been a risk of ground water contamination on one of the sites. 

Judge Borthwick said Paul Lindsay, a director of Lindsay Builders Ltd, immediately accepted responsibility on behalf of the defendant then hired an environmental scientist to investigate all of the company's demolition sites to fix those where waste had been buried. 

The judge noted Lindsay now formally signed off the work once it was completed to check it was all done properly.

Environment Canterbury's acting director of resource management, Don Chittock, said it was ''hugely important'' earthquake waste was disposed of properly.

''If it's not, and it's irresponsibly dumped or buried there is potential for some serious environmental effects in both the short and longer term.''

Chittock said ECan appreciated the resources Lindsay Builders Ltd had put into investigating its sites and remediating those where it needed to be done. 

''However, the shortcuts taken by their staff member are unacceptable and there are consequences for that,'' he said.

''Ultimately it is the company and director who are responsible for the culture and systems that support their business operations.''

Chittock said company directors needed to make sure employees were following the rules, especially given the quantities of waste being generated through deconstruction. 

He said the burial of any waste, regardless of the quantity, was a serious matter.

If any company was found to be doing this then action would be taken against it, Chittock said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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