Ouvea premix may be out of Mataura by Christmas

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The Mataura Paper Mill site has held ouvea premix from Rio Tinto for more than five years. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

THE Mataura community could be gifted the removal of the toxic substance stored in the town’s former paper mill this Christmas.

About 10,000 tonnes of the ouvea premix otherwise known as dross was stored in the old paper mill on the banks of the Mataura River.

If it became wet it could produce poisonous ammonia gas.

Court mediation for its accelerated removal had been under way for more than a month, amid community concerns it had been stored in Southland.

Last Friday, Environment Judge Laurie Newhook said the next mediation would be set for October 30, “hopefully to receive a report on finality”.

“Their expectation is that the accelerated removal from Mataura will be commencing in the first week of November.”

He said it “could conceivably” be completed by Christmas, but would be weather-dependent.

The Environmental Defence Society filed its Environment Court application in July.

It argued New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter breached its discharge permit when the aluminium dross was removed off-site from the Tiwai Point smelter, and it was responsible for removing the dross by-products from the Mataura site.

The smelter’s notice of opposition stated it acted reasonably in contracting Taha Asia Pacific, which had responsibility for the material as it was processed into the ouvea premix.

It said there was no breach of its discharge permit when it allowed Taha to take the material off its site.

The judicial settlement conferences were between the society, smelter and interested parties.

the Environment Minister, the Gore District Council, Southland Storage Ltd and Southland Regional Council.

The premix would be moved to an industrial site.

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