A Mount Maunganui pet food company has been the subject of 170 bad odour complaints to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
Of those, 153 have been made since 2016.
BOPRC regulatory compliance officer Trudy Richards says they have been able to verify the odour coming from Ziwi, in Boeing Place, 21 times.
“Any complaints that come through to our pollution hotline are referred to an officer to investigate. The Regional Air Plan requires that any discharge of contaminants to air does not result in objectionable or offensive odour beyond the boundary of the subject property, so the officer needs to visit the site to verify whether or not this condition is being complied with.
“If a non-compliance is verified and the source of the odour can be confirmed, enforcement action will be considered along with any work required to remedy the situation and bring the site back into compliance.”
She says odour complaints can be difficult to verify as they are often subjective, and may be short lived.
“As such, an odour may not be ‘verified' if an officer was unable to attend in time to assess it, the odour had dissipated by the time they arrived, or the odour was not considered to be offensive or objectionable.”
BOPRC has undertaken a number of enforcement measures in relation to the odour issues, particularly since complaint numbers began to rise in 2016. Trudy says a formal letter was sent to Ziwi in August 2016 outlining the requirement for them to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effects of their discharge on the environment.
“Since then, BOPRC has also issued Ziwi with an abatement notice instructing Ziwi to cease discharging contaminants into the air in a manner that contravenes the Regional Air Plan, and four infringement notices in relation to separate verified complaints.”
She says in addition to these enforcement measures, BOPRC has been working with Ziwi to try and resolve these issues by agreeing timelines for identifying and implementing odour control measures.
Ziwi managing director Richard Lawrence says they've been on their current site in Boeing Place for around 10 years.
“Up until 2015, we varied between one and four complaints a year. In 2016, towards the latter end of the year, the complaints began to intensify.
“This year it's gone up – we're averaging around 20 a month, although in June and July we only had four.”
He believes an increase in businesses taking up tenancies in the area has contributed to the rise in complaints, which Ziwi is actively working to resolve.
“We started a process with the council at the end of last year, bringing in consultants from Hamilton who recommended installing a deodorising system to mask the smell.”
That $30,000 system was installed in May, after which the complaints dropped.
“We thought we were on to something, until the complaints jumped again in July,” says Richard.
“So we switched to some Christchurch consultants who we felt had more experience in the field of environmental smells. They recommended we increase the stack/chimney height.”
Ziwi has altered their current stacks to make them 14 metres off the ground.
“We now have these high stacks up from the factory, which we've been told are doing a pretty good job. We continue to get complaints, but in the last two months the council has been unable to verify them.”
He says the company has spent around $80,000 so far, and he believes they may have to put something inside the stacks to mitigate the smell.
Despite the number of complaints, Richard says they've only managed to speak to two people about the issue, whom Ziwi themselves approached. No complainants have approached Ziwi directly.
“We're happy to talk with our neighbours about the processes we're putting in place. All we're asking for is a little bit of time.”