Spilling grass seed contaminated with the plant pest black
grass has cost a seed company $57,000 in fines and up to
$300,000 for a monitoring programme.
PGG Wrightson Seeds was fined in the Ashburton District Court
last week for two breaches of the Biosecurity Act in charges
laid by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The company was fined $21,000 on the first charge of
transporting 2kg of the seed without authority and $36,750 on
the second charge of transporting the rest of the shipment to
Methven without meeting specific conditions.
A shipment of red fescue grass seed imported from Denmark in
May last year was found to be contaminated with invasive
black grass seed, also known as slender meadow foxtail, a
pest plant not found in New Zealand.
The company was granted permission to move the seed from
Rolleston to Tinwald for removal of the black grass seed.
This was not possible at the Tinwald plant and permission was
given to move the seed, in sealed containers, to a Methven
plant for treatment.
The consignment was weighed in Denmark and weighed again when
recleaned in Methven. A discrepancy was discovered. Seeds
were found on the deck of the truck that transported it and
it was realised there had been a spill.
Since the spill, PGG Wrightson Seeds has been working with
MPI, Federated Farmers, the Foundation of Arable Research and
Environment Canterbury to address any biosecurity threats.
MPI response manager David Yard said there had been no black
grass found in the area this season.