Company denies ammonia gas discharge at Belfast

Polarcold Stores Ltd denies a charge of discharging ammonia gas in an alleged April incident in Belfast which also resulted in the deaths of about 2000 eels and fish.

The North Island-based company has already admitted a charge of 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 Canterbury Regional Counsel said at the time that about 1990 eels and 30 fish were found dead along a 4km stretch of the Kaputone Creek. The eels were both shortfin and a rare longfin species and ranged in length from 15cm to 1m.

The company admitted that charge on November 28 but the second charge was remanded to an Environment Court session at the Christchurch courts today, where defence counsel Pru Steven said a not guilty charge would be entered.

That charges alleges that on the same dates as the other discharge, the company discharged the contaminant ammonia gas from an industrial or trade premises into the air, without permission.

Judge Jane Borthwick remanded the case for a case review hearing on February 20 – the next step on the way to a trial.

No summary of facts for the charge that Polarcold has admitted has yet been agreed so that charge has been remanded to the same date when a summary be released or the case will be scheduled for a disputed facts hearing.