Tourists let off after deliberately emptying diesel into drain
Tourists who emptied diesel from their van onto a suburban Nelson street wll leave New Zealand with just a warning.
Last Saturday, the tourists were seen emptying diesel from their van's fuel tank into a stormwater drain on Fountain Place after they put the wrong fuel in their vehicle.
Staff from the BP service station on Haven Road used a spill kit to clean up the fuel while police and the fire service were called to the incident. Several passersby let the tourists, who were believed to be French, know they thought their behaviour was unacceptable.
The tourist who emptied the fuel told a firefighter he did not care he was wrong as they were poor backpackers and were only in New Zealand for three weeks.
Nelson City Council group manager strategy and environment Clare Barton said it had undertaken an investigation into the spill to see how the pollution occurred and whether any enforcement action would be taken.
"Due to the prompt actions of members of the public, BP staff, emergency services and council's contractors, no diesel reached the waterways."
Barton said the tourist responsible for the spill was under the impression that the stormwater drains were filtered, as they were in his home country, so that the diesel would not make its way in to the waterways.
"On being informed of his error he was fully co-operative and remorseful."
Council will now issue a warning letter and will recover costs from the tourists.
The tourists could have been fined or charged for breaching the Resource Management Act.
The council wanted to reinforce anything that entered the stormwater system ended up in the rivers or the sea.
Its stormwater and flood protection system is made up of 27 kilometres of rivers and streams and 175km of stormwater pipes which carry untreated water into rivers, streams, the Haven and Tasman Bay.
If anyone sees any pollution in our rivers or streams, they should ring the council on 03 546 0200 as soon as possible.
Fuel was classed as hazardous waste and could be disposed of at the transfer station in Tahunanui, Nelson.