20.07.2016. New Zealand’s Supreme Court has cleared Mobil Oil of a NZ$10 million bill to clean up contamination at Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter.
Publicly-owned Waterfront Auckland also has to pay Mobil close to $1 million in court costs for its failed attempt to get the oil company to foot the decontamination bill.
Mobil Oil leased two properties in Auckland’s waterfront tank farm for more than 50 years. When the firm’s lease for the two sites ended in 2011, it was found the land they were on had been heavily contaminated.
It was established that the company was not solely responsible for the contamination as other oil companies as previous tenants had contributed. However, Waterfront Auckland claimed Mobil had to deliver the land in a completely “uncontaminated condition” at the end of its lease.
The council-controlled organisation took Mobil to the High Court in Auckland, where it was decided that if Mobil was liable, it would pay $10 million in damages. In 2014 the court decided that Mobil was not contractually obliged to decontaminate the subsurface of the land.
Waterfront Auckland – now called Panuku Development Auckland – then challenged that decision and last year the Court of Appeal reversed it, awarding a $10 million judgment to the public body.
But on 20 July, the Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeal’s decision and found in Mobil’s favour.

20th July 2016