Company admits stream contamination that killed eels

A North Island-based company has admitted discharging contaminants which the Canterbury Regional Council said killed 2000 eels and fish in Belfast in April.

Polarcold Stores Ltd, which is listed at an address in Hastings, pleaded guilty before Environment Court Judge Jane Borthwick at the Christchurch Justice Precinct today.

It admitted breaching the Resource Management Act by discharging ammonia contaminated water or ammonia onto land in circumstances which may result in the contaminant entering water, when it had no permission under the regional plan or a resource consent.

The case was remanded to December 19, when defence counsel Pru Steven said the company would enter a plea to a second charge alleging a discharge of ammonia gas from industrial or trade premises into air. She said the company needed more time to consider that charge.

The case will then go to February 20, with the company still in talks with the Canterbury Regional Council about whether a summary of facts can be agreed or a disputed facts hearing will be required.

No summary of facts was released at today’s hearing.

The offences are alleged to have occurred at Belfast on April 3, after hundreds of dead eels were found in Kaputone Creek in Belfast, in Christchurch’s northern suburbs. The council said after investigating the source of the contamination that 1990 eels and about 30 fish were dead.

The eels ranged from 15cm up to 1m in length.

The dead eels and fish were found along a 4km stretch of the stream.