A company’s commitment to listen to its community has helped it put matters right

On 28 March 2018 charges were withdrawn in the Christchurch District Court against Solvent Rescue Limited as both Environment Canterbury and the company agreed to alternative outcomes which benefited the community.

Solvent Rescue Limited (SRL) operates a specialist solvent recycling and liquid purifying operation in Christchurch.

In 2016 it was served an abatement notice to ensure no offensive or objectionable odours went beyond the property’s boundary.  However, on 17 July 2017 it breached this notice.

Canterbury Regional Council solicitor Vanessa Sugrue said the defendant accepted responsibility and applied to go through the Alternative Environmental Justice (AEJ) scheme.

This scheme is designed to expand options for making right the wrong and addressing the effects while ensuring that the consequences of offending are accepted by the community, those affected, the Regional Council and defendant as just and fair.

Sugrue said part of the AEJ process involved a conference with representatives of the local community to discuss how the offending had impacted them.

Connecting with the community

As a result of the conference, SRL paid $5000 to the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand with the condition that it must be used for tree planting on, or near, the Port Hills.  It also installed a new chiller system which will cool the system and limit emissions due to high temperatures.

“Importantly, Solvent Rescue has made genuine efforts to connect with the community and provide a way for neighbours to let them know if there is an offensive odour discharge,” she said. “Everyone involved agreed that all neighbouring properties should have at least three contact numbers for Solvent Rescue staff so they could call them if there was an odour and Solvent Rescue have agreed to shut down the system and stop the operation until conditions are more favourable if they are called.”

SRL director Chris Bathurst said, “It was never our intention to have unpleasant odour and we’re sorry for any harm that this has caused.”

“This was a worthwhile process which achieved positive outcomes for us all, and meant we are now more engaged with the community than before and we believe the community are also more understanding as to the efforts we make to improve the local environment by reducing pollution by recycling waste.”