The Roslyn KFC outlet, scene of an oil and fat discharge.
Photo by Craig Baxter.
Restaurant Brands has been fined $15,000 for a spill of
oil and fats from one of its Dunedin fast food outlets, KFC,
into the Kaikorai Stream, which caused the death of two ducks.
It was the first conviction under the Resource Management Act
for the company, which has 88 KFC, Starbucks and Pizza Hut
outlets throughout the country.
On October 8 last year, the grease trap at KFC's Kaikorai
Valley outlet discharged fats and oils into the car park.
These drained to a sump, then flowed into a gutter and into
the Kaikorai Stream, the Dunedin District Court heard
A customer alerted staff to the spill on the Saturday night
but no action was taken.
On the Monday, the grease trap was pumped out.
The SPCA rang the Otago Regional Council on the Tuesday to
advise ORC staff ducks in the stream had been covered with
The next day, a regional council staff member saw a film of
oil on the water for about 110m.
Close to KFC, mats of fat and oil were found.
A KFC regional manager was advised, who ordered the outlet
cleaned and engaged contractors to remove the worst of the
fat and oil from the stream.
Fish and Game destroyed two ducks affected by oil from the
discharge and the SPCA cleaned and cared for four ducks for
Oil in water also caused oxygen stress, with the potential
for asphyxiation of fish and macroinvertebrates.
As a result, the Otago Regional Council charged Restaurant
Brands with discharging contaminants in circumstances in
which they might enter water.
The charge has a maximum penalty of $600,000.
Council counsel Alastair Logan said it took two and a-half
days for the company to clean up the site, an aggravating
factor and which led to further run-off of oil and fat to the
The problem was not addressed until the incident was taken to
a higher management level, Mr Logan said.
He suggested the fine should start at $40,000 but did not
believe it should be uplifted due to the size of the company,
as it had taken all appropriate steps to prevent further
Restaurant Brands counsel Mark Davies said the exact cause
and location of the blockage remained unknown.
Restaurant Brands admitted it "should have dealt with this
earlier and better", Mr Davies said.
The company had not had an incident like this before and all
its outlets' waste management systems were compliant and
fully maintained, he said.
Since the incident, the company had reviewed maintenance of
its waste disposal systems, sent out a national memorandum
and at the Kaikorai outlet had installed a bund, put up
warning notices and spoken to staff to ensure the incident
remained an isolated one, he said.
The company had done its best to make amends for the
incident, paying the costs of Fish and Game, the SPCA and
donating $500 to each. It also paid the costs incurred by the
Environment Court judge Laurie Newhook accepted the company's
consultant ecologist's finding that the stream was not of
high quality, but noted the stream supported a notable level
of exotic and natural fauna.
He accepted the company had undertaken steps to ensure it did
not happen again and had shown willingness to provide
An appropriate starting point for a fine was $30,000 but he
gave a 25% discount for an early guilty plea, and a further
25% for the company's incident response.
Restaurant Brands was convicted and fined $15,000 and ordered
to pay court costs $132.89, solicitors fees $113,
Ninety percent of the fine would go to the regional council.