Fonterra fined €115,000 after causing a local stink

Fonterra, the New Zealand dairy giant, has been fined NZ$192,000 (€115,000) after it discharged buttermilk in a South Taranaki treatment pond that caused a stench in the local area, the New Zealand Herald reports.

It was last month found guilty of breaching the Resource Management Act over the odorous compounds coming out of the Eltham Wastewater Treatment Plant, it reports.

The judge handling the case in the Environment Court, Judge Brian Dwyer, last month said that he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the buttermilk discharged by Fonterra in October 2013 was the source and cause of the odour at Eltham between March and May last year.

The paper reports that Fonterra did not dispute this during the case however, it did challenge its criminal liability for the discharges.

Fonterras defences were rejected by the judge and the dairy giant was found guilty of the charge and fined.

In an unrelated case last week, Fonterra was fined NZ$170,000 for discharging wastewater into the Rangitaiki River on six different occasions, the paper reports.

It says that the company had pleaded guilty to four offences relating to their wastewater irrigation system and two for overflows at their Edgecumbe plant.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Pollution Prevention Manager Nick Zaman last week said the discharge of dairy wastewater directly into the river was disappointing.

“The Rangitaiki River is important for migratory and indigenous fish, it has whitebait spawning sites, and is culturally very significant to a number of iwi (Maori tribes) including Ngati Awa, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Whare, Ngati Manawa and Ngai Tuhoe. It’s the pataka kai – food basket for iwi,” he told the New Zealand Herald.

Director of Global Operations, Robert Spurway, said that Fonterra would like to reiterate its regret for the impact of these issues on the Eltham and Edgecumbe communities.

“We take our obligations under the Resource Management Act seriously. Sustainable dairying is one of the core tenets of our business and we set high environmental standards for ourselves,” he said.

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