Harsh penalties handed down to illegal dumpers disposing of toxic waste in Auckland

Home detention and fines have been given to two people and a company for illegally dumping oil drums in Manurewa and the Waitākere Ranges in Auckland earlier this year.

The director of D Bhagyanil Company Limited, Devendra Prakash, was convicted and sentenced for 28 charges relating to illegally dumping hazardous material under the Resource Management Act at the Auckland District Court today.

The offending, which took place in February last year, were noted by District Court Judge Melanie Harland as being deliberate, serious and reckless offending for commercial gain, and which led to associated environmental effects.

Prakash was sentenced to three months home detention, six months probation and was further ordered to pay the Auckland Council $17,195.61 in reparations.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff Source: Luke Appleby/1 NEWS

His former employee, Harampreet Singh, was also sentenced for the same offending in October last year. Singh was convicted but discharged.

Judge Harland highlighted that he had been served with a deportation order and the matter was referred to Immigration NZ.

The pair were identified and charged following an extensive investigation by Auckland Council after Mayor Phil Goff announced increased efforts to tackle illegal dumping in Auckland in February last year.

Auckland Council’s Regulatory Compliance Manager Steve Pearce said in a statement, "It is relatively uncommon for us to end up in the court and seek a sentence of imprisonment. However, the deliberate nature of this offending and the potential significance of the environmental effects left us with no option.

"Where we have sufficient evidence, we make sure that offenders are held accountable for the costs of their offending and the reparation award in this case has prevented ratepayers from footing the bill."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff added, saying, "Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that if you dump illegally, we will catch you and you will pay a high price.

"There is no excuse for illegal dumping. I’m sick of it and so are Aucklanders. We have a stunning natural environment and it deserves better than to be treated like a rubbish-tip by an errant few.

He said the case was "particularly nasty" as the offender dumped oil barrels and used oil filters containing oil and toxic chemicals.

"It was harmful to the environment and the ratepayer had to pick up the bill for disposing of their mess properly.

"Today’s sentencing under the RMA sends a strong message that if you illegally dump we will track you down and throw the book at you."

In February last year, Mayor Goff announced new resources to tackle illegal dumping including an 0800 hotline to report dumpers, additional enforcement staff, doubling the number of surveillance cameras in hotspot areas and accelerating the process to clean up dumped material in public areas.

Since launching the crackdown, prosecutions have doubled and there has been a nearly three-fold increase in Litter Infringement Notices.

Mayor Goff’s Annual Budget agreed by Council this week confirms continued funding for the illegal dumping crackdown of $200,000 for the financial year 2019/20.

Dumped oil barrels. Source: 1 NEWS