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Outrage after waste company accused of dumping sewage into Whakatāne stream

Whakatāne residents are devastated at the apparent dumping of sewage into a treasured waterway near the town by a waste company.

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Pictures captured by a resident appeared to show the company cleaning up the mess, after an orange truck was caught releasing its bowels into the waterway on Monday. Source: Te Karere

Whānau from Ngāi Taiwhakaea hapū of Ngāti Awa appear to have caught Brownfreight emptying waste from one of its trucks into Te Orini stream earlier this week, and are calling on the company to clean up its act. 

Pictures captured by a resident appeared to show the company cleaning up the mess, after an orange truck was caught releasing its bowels into the waterway on Monday. 

Video also appears to show waste on the stream's banks. 

"It was raining so we didn’t really stop and take photos or anything but you could just see the gunk coming out of the truck," Jean Kopae told Te Karere.

Glenna Te Aotonga said the pollution was an "environmental crime".

"Te Orini is lifeforce of our hapū here of Ngai Taiwhakaea, Te Paroa, it means many things," she told Te Karere. 

"Not just a food source, it's where we grew up, where we learnt, where we developed skills."

Residents have been concerned about the health of the waterway due to a nearby mill.

Brownfreight manager Richard Gericson couldn't confirm it was his company, but they were investigating.

In a statement to Te Karere, Bay of Plenty Regional Council compliance manager Stephen Mellor says it has commenced a formal investigation into the incident, which will inform any decisions around any enforcement to be taken in response.

It has a range of tools available in regards to enforcement, including directive options such as an abatement notice or enforcement order, or punitive options such as prosecution.