Radio NZ reveals Big Companies Big Polluters

Radio NZ has reported Talleys, Ernest Adams and Yoplait are among hundreds of manufacturers and brands dumping contaminants into New Zealand’s drains and getting away with it.
The same sorts of bloody, greasy scenes are playing out across New Zealand. Even once treated, the waste being dumped can destroy biodiversity – choking rivers, and wreaking havoc on marine life.
Hundreds of companies have dumped contaminants – like blood, fat, and toxic chemicals such as ammonia and sulphides – into sewers in breach of their trade waste consents over the past year, RNZ has revealed.
Some are bakeries, supermarkets and takeaway shops dumping the contents of their dirty grease traps. But some of New Zealand’s biggest manufacturers and brands are also discharging contaminants – many of them dangerous – and most have breached the conditions of their consents multiple times.
Data obtained from 68 city and district councils paints a grim picture of compliance, showing at least 270 companies have breached their conditions, while in several areas, compliance is rare or non-existent.
Talleys and Sanfords
In Timaru, every trade waste consent holder has breached their conditions, while in Central Hawke’s Bay, six of eight have done so. They include the seafood supplier, frozen vegetable and ice cream maker Talley’s, and its meatworks subsidiary AFFCO. There’s also the sustainable fishing company Sanford, DB Draught brewery, frozen foods manufacturer McCains, Heartland Potato Chips, Medallion Pet Foods, premium lamb producer Ovation and another of Wallace Group’s rendering plants, South Canterbury By-Products.
In Palmerston North, eight of the nine consent holders have broken their consents multiple times, including two sites belonging to the dairy giant Fonterra, Goodman Fielder’s Ernest Adams and Yoplait factories and the largest Māori-owned fishing company in the country, Moana New Zealand.
Some of the breaches are so unbelievable they are almost comical. Horowhenua District Council failed to meet consent conditions it imposed upon itself, by allowing Levin Landfill to discharge more leachate – a chemical-filled liquid heavy in ammonia and nitrogen that drains from the dump – than the wastewater treatment plant could cope with.
Even after forking out $28,606 in clean up costs to Tauranga City Council for trade waste breaches in 2019, upmarket pet food company ZiwiPeak racked up another 12 breaches last year, council records show.
But not every council keeps track of consent breaches in this way – or, if they do, is transparent about what they find.
Tight Lipped
In several regions, it’s hard to get an accurate picture of how companies behave because councils don’t have rules about what can be dumped into the sewers, rarely monitor dumping, or will not answer RNZ’s questions.
Auckland Council’s Watercare, which manages the largest wastewater network in the country, refuses to answer any questions about who has consents and who is breaching them because of “privacy reasons”.
Many other councils simply don’t know what’s occurring because they test a company’s wastewater as seldom as once a year, or leave it to the companies to monitor their own discharges.
Despite hundreds of consent holders dumping contaminants into the sewers in the past year, not a single one has been prosecuted. Councils can’t stomach the cost of taking a prosecution under the Local Government Act or the Resource Management Act.
How many have been slapped with fines? None. 
Governments’ Blind Eye
A legal loophole means councils have no power to issue them, so are instead forced to take an “educative” approach with errant firms.
The upshot is hundreds of companies getting away with breaking the rules, and potentially damaging public infrastructure and polluting the environment. And RNZ can reveal successive governments have known about the issue for nearly two decades, but have done nothing to stop it.

, Radio NZ reveals Big Companies Big Polluters

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13 Responses to Radio NZ reveals Big Companies Big Polluters

  1. John Leader says:

    To think that for the last several years we have blamed agriculture for pollution of freshwater. Gross urban habits and reluctance of local councils to solve the problems but just let untreated waste flow out to sea, while they fritter the rates on ambitious projects for self-aggrandisment, needs to be curbed. Helen Clark opened the door on this, we need to shut it again.

  2. Gillie Smith says:

    Yes and law-abiding citizens actually enhancing the environment by planting trees,caring for wetlands, etc. will soon be under the microscope with the ridiculous new rules for farming. These are usually based on inaccurate information and a blind disregard of normal farming practices currently being carried out with a regard for their environmental impact applied with a huge dollop of COMMONSENSE

  3. Dennis Hanna says:

    Is the plan to turn New Zealand from pristine to toxic. It seems the 1080 destruction of the environment is just the tip of the iceberg. Time for accountability, right to the top.

  4. I have just finished reading David Attenborough’s, A life on our Planet, and one of the key things for our future he stresses is biodiversity.
    To encourage this biodiversity it is essential that we keep our streams and rivers clean and unpolluted.

  5. John Mulgan says:

    Thanks for the coverage of how unsustainable some of business operating in this fine country are. For over two decades the New Zealand government has sponsored seminars on sustainable business practices and ethos. But without regulation, this is just putting lipstick on a pig. I noticed missing from the list of offenders is Silverfern, whom Environment Canterbury allows to dump their waste into the ocean. One of their communications advisors now runs the Otago Regional Council’s PR office. The capture of regional councils by polluters is pervasive.

  6. Lawrence Stevenson says:

    why not organise a nation wide boycott of the offending companies products until such time as they can prove they are not polluting.

  7. Graham Elwell says:

    The Joke is that these are the very same people who want t0 catch a Fish or two on the Weekend ! Honestly I don’t know how we have the bloody cheek t0 call our selves a 100 percent pure ? Anyway the overuse of all Chemicals both Industrial & Hort / Ag must in NZ MUST STOP BEFORE THEY POISON THE BLOODY LOT OF US !!~

  8. Joe says:

    It is always the big money men who get away with pollution it’s much easier to prosecute the little people who cause the minor pollution.

  9. Dave says:

    Well to get any action out of this Government is like pulling hen’s teeth. They have a lot to say and are unable, or can not be bothered to uphold the laws. The farming sector is getting hammered and they are doing something about it but are any of these companies? There are not the politicians with the balls to do something as they are all career orientated so don’t want to lose their seats and their pensions.
    It is time we had a Government that ruled for the people, by the people. How much longer do we have to put up with these toxins going into our aquifers just to feed people overseas. Time we started looking after ourselves.

    • Keith Hawkins says:

      Thank god we arent relying on the useless national government to fix any of this. Remember that idiot Nick Smith changing water standards from swimmable to wadable, everything was good as long as your waders didnt melt. Remember John Keys incessant drive for more dairying whatever the cost.
      This government is at least putting money in to clean up the likes of Lake Waihora and lake Horowhenua and have the department of conservation restoring water ways.

  10. Colin Taylor says:

    So much for ‘Clean Green’ New Zealand. The only thing that’s ‘green’ is the colour of the toxic effluents emanating from these big industrial polluters – along with dirty dairy farms.
    Councils are forced to take an ‘educative’ approach! What a joke. Locally based executives and staff of these big companies are most likely among the councillors – just like dirty dairy farmers have their representatives loading rural councils so they can vote against anti-pollution legislation and measures.
    Big polluters can also afford big fines. The only thing that will make these greedy, profit-driven Merchants of Death (to our waterways) stop polluting are multi-million dollar fines and bills for restoring the rivers and streams – hitting them in the only place it hurts them – in their pockets.

  11. David Mack says:

    This is something the government could do something effective about. But no, they will continue with the absurd carbon zero nonsense which will not make a blind bit of difference to our ecological prospects.

  12. "Eco-eyes" says:

    Not sure as Keith Hawkins referred to that DOC is restoring waterways. I feel it’s quite the opposite; DOC don’t advocate for rivers or waterways. They stand lamely by. Rivers and streams are native fish habitat but I never see DOC taking corporate dairying to task. I don’t see them fighting to keep Water Conservation Orders intact. I notice native bird species like kingfishers and cuckoos in very noticeable decline. Eels (long fin especially)threatened.But there’s not a peep out of DOC. In fact, you’ll gather I’ve no confidence in DOC.

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