You don’t come away with a clean sheet, when you spill ink. Nor should you, when the spilled ink turns Christchurch’s Heathcote River blue.
Alf accordingly wonders what Mainstream Forwarders thinks it’s up to, when it appeals an $18,000 fine for an ink spillage.
The company did plead guilty, after all.
The Heathcote River turned blue in July last year when up to 40 litres of ink spilled into it through a sump in Mainstream Forwarders’ Sockburn yard.
The company pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to a breach of the Resource Management Act.
In May, Judge Jane Borthwick fined the company $18,000, with 90 per cent payable to Environment Canterbury (ECan).
It seems admitting the offence is one thing; being convicted is another.
Mainstream’s managing director, Greg Halliday, of Auckland, told the judge his company feared customers may withdraw their accounts if it was convicted and offered to pay reparation equal to the fine the court may impose.
However, the judge was not satisfied of such consequences and convicted Mainstream.
“Industry must be vigilant and ensure that its activities [the handling of products] is done in a way that does not result in the contravention of the act,” she said in sentencing notes.
But Halliday has confirmed his firm has appealed to the High Court. The appeal will be heard on September 23.
ECan regulation director Kim Drummond, on the other hand, reckons the judge made the right call and claims the case sent a strong message about the consequences of spills into local waterways.
“Companies and their employees need to be aware that there can be serious repercussions when contaminants are discharged into our waterways, albeit through accidents,” Drummond said.
It seems the spilled ink contained anti-freeze, but ECan scientists believed it would have had “a minimal effect” on plants and animals in the river.
Dunno what that means, really. Minimal effect? What would a maximum effect have been?
But ECan lawyer Marie Dysart told the court Mainstream’s actions were not deliberate – the spill was caused by carelessness and a lack of forethought.
Trouble is, the response, including the placement of booms and absorbent material, was disorganised and did not go far enough, Dysart said.
Personally, Alf reckons the company has blotted its copy book and should take the penalty on the chin.
UPDATE AND CORRECTION: This post has been corrected – in the original version, Alf slipped up. He named Mainfreight as the offending company in the headline and in one subsequent paragraph. The blunder is regretted. As ECan lawyer Marie Dysart put it, his actions were not deliberate – the error was caused by carelessness. Thanks to those who pointed out the error; Alf’s apologies to Mainfreight.