Fonterra fire case settled

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Dairy giant Fonterra has settled a claim against companies in the Icepak coolstore group for the loss of $25 million of cheese in the 2008 Tamahere fire that claimed the life of a firefighter.

Cheese burning in the Icepak fire
Cheese burning in the Icepak fire

The case was settled last October in a confidential out-of-court settlement. No other details are available.

In January 2011, Fonterra was given permission to sue the owners of the Tamahere coolstore, Icepak Group Ltd. It had already filed papers against the lessee of the building, Waikato Coldstorage Ltd (formerly Icepak Coolstores Ltd), as well as Mobile Refrigeration Specialists Ltd, which carried out refrigeration work at the cool store.

Justice Rodney Hansen said the explosion was believed to have been caused by the ignition of flammable gases used as a refrigerant.

Fonterra’s case was that the explosion resulted from the unlawful and unsafe operation of the coolstore, he said.

“They allege that there were defects in the plant installed and systems introduced when the coolstore was modified to introduce the refrigerant which caused the explosion.”

A number of other parties, including other cheesemakers and insurers, were also involved in litigation as a result of the fire, which claimed the life of firefighter Derek Lovell and injured seven colleagues when the plant suddenly erupted into a fireball on April 5, 2008. It’s not known whether other cases are still proceeding.

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