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Greater Wellington issues infringement notices for wastewater plant odours

Greater Wellington has taken action against Wellington Water Limited, Veolia New Zealand Limited, Upper Hutt City Council and Lower Hutt City Council for discharging offensive and objectionable odour beyond the boundary of the Seaview Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Thirteen incidents of offensive and objectionable odour beyond the boundary of the property have been confirmed by Greater Wellington amid significant levels of public complaint over the smell.

As a consequence, infringement notices have been issued to both Wellington Water Limited and Veolia New Zealand Limited for each of the 13 confirmed discharges and 13 abatement notice breaches, totalling 26 instances of non-compliance with a cost per company of $22,750.

Infringement notices for breaches of abatement notices have also been issued to both Hutt City Council and Upper Hutt City Council, who are the consent holders responsible for compliance and investment in the treatment plant – with a cost per council of $9,750.

Greater Wellington’s action follows a significant number of complaints from members of the public over objectionable odours from the treatment plant with 111 complaints registered between 31 October and 12 December 2023, which triggered an investigation by the regional council in November this year. The outcome was the decision to issue the infringement notices.

“We don’t take this step lightly. Our priority is to work co-operatively with consent holders to ensure they manage their activities within the terms of their consents,” says Greater Wellington Environment Group Manager Lian Butcher.

“Issuing fines is an enforcement approach that takes a lot of consideration. But following non-compliance with the consent conditions and subsequent abatement notices, and given the severity of the odour, there were very few options left available to us other than issuing these infringements.”

Ms Butcher added that she hoped replacing the plant’s biofilter media to mitigate odour would put an end to the discomfort felt in neighbourhoods adjacent to the treatment plant. The replacement is due to be complete in mid-February 2024. Greater Wellington would continue to monitor odours for compliance with all relevant consents, she said.

 

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