[16 December/Stuff]

Babich Wines has avoided convictions for contamination charges after demonstrating “extraordinary remorse” in a landmark pollution case. Runoff from the company’s new grape marc pad, leaked into the ground contaminating neighbours’ wells in 2016. The pad was not tested before it was used, and the leachate seeped into three shallow groundwater bores, which provided drinking water to six households. The council’s tests showed unsafe levels of iron and manganese in the three bores, and one also had unsafe levels of arsenic. Representatives of some families noted that Babich Wines behaved as good corporate citizens in trying to fix the contamination, going out of their way to make personal contact with each of us, and do everything possible to correct the problem. Another family called for more research on safe storage of grape marc, and more oversight from council. Babich CEO, David Babich, described the pollution as a disaster that was completely opposed to the company’s intended endeavour and, as a consequence, the company has agreed to get rid of the pad, pay neighbours’ out-of-pocket expenses, and arrange a workshop about grape marc management to educate the industry. Babich Wines also reimbursed 100 per cent of the council’s costs for analysts and experts, and made a large contribution toward other costs.