Hefty fine for contamination of Mt Somers waterway

A company has been fined $120,000 after discharging a chemical that entered a Mt Somers water race killing hundreds of fish.

Harrison Spraying Services Limited pleaded guilty in Court to discharging a contaminant onto land where it entered a stock water race.

The offending occurred after a company truck driver filled the truck with water from the stock water race. During this process, an agrichemical escaped from the tank due to the driver overfilling the tank. The agrichemical-contaminated water then flowed into the stock water race.

At the sentencing on April 21, Judge Hassan ordered Harrison Spraying Services Limited to pay $120,000 for the offending.

Environmental effects — hundreds of fish dead

The stock water race, which runs through Mt Somers village, is part of a stock water network managed by the Ashburton District Council. 

Environment Canterbury staff found the discharge affected about a six kilometre stretch of the race.

It is estimated that between 600 to 1000 fish died, including brown trout, common bullies, native kōkopu and kēwai (freshwater crayfish). However, staff believe this number could be higher as there were parts of the race that they could not inspect due to accessibility issues.

Inspections by staff about six months after the incident found that the discharge was still having an effect with an absence of fish species downstream of where the incident occurred.

At this stage, the long-term effects on the stock water race are unknown.

Sentencing results in satisfying outcome

Ashburton zone lead Janine Holland welcomed the fine.

“We are satisfied at the outcome of the sentencing and hope it serves as a reminder to all businesses about their responsibility to protect the environment. Ignoring these responsibilities can have devasting and far-reaching impacts on our aquatic species,” Holland said.