Environment Canterbury has laid charges against Sanford, after one of its vessels spilled more than four tonnes of oil into Timaru Harbour.
The regional council declined to comment on the nature of the charges, other than to say they related to an estimated 4000 litres of oil being spilt into the harbour, after a Sanford boat, the San Enterprise, experienced a failure in its internal piping system.
The charges will be heard in the Timaru District Court on January 31 next year.
It is understood that ECan filed the charges within the Resource Management Act's six-month statutory timeframe.
The incident occurred on May 2, but ECan did not put out a media advisory until nearly 24 hours later.
At the time of the incident, ECan's then coast and water- ways safety manager, Evan Walker, said it had spent upwards of $30,000 on absorbent to clear the spill.
The actual clean-up took more than a week, Mr Walker said.
However, he praised Sanford for its quick response and co-operation once the error was identified.
Sanford Deepwater manager Darryn Shaw could not be reached for comment last night.
There have been 23 separate prosecutions for spills of hydrocarbons into the Timaru harbour since 1994.
The most recent was late last year after the Korean-owned Pacinui, which Sanford sub-chartered, spilled more than 171 litres of oil into the harbour in January 2011. Sanford was fined $7500.
- The Timaru Herald