Council moving on premix removal

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The Gore District Council is exploring options as to how to ensure the removal of ouvea premix stored in the former Mataura paper mill.

Resource consent for the storage of 10,000 tonnes of the ouvea premix stored (an oxide residue that is a waste by-product of the aluminium-making process) expired yesterday.

Its owner Taha Asia Pacific Ltd went into liquidation in 2016 and last month the liquidator formally disclaimed the substance as onerous property.

Gore District mayor Tracy Hicks said the council was focused on protecting the community and environment.

“Ultimately we want to see the premix gone from Mataura.

“However, it will take time,” Mr Hicks said.

Chief executive Stephen Parry said the council would seek advice from the Environment Court as to who was responsible for the storage of the premix and was also in discussion with a company that proposes to remove and dispose of the premix offshore.

There is a cost involved and the council will be working with other interested parties to secure a funding package.

“We have to remember this is not just a Mataura or Gore District Council problem, it’s a Southland problem.”

Just before Christmas, Mr Hicks, as chair of the Southland Mayor Forum, wrote to the Minister of Finance and Minister of Environment seeking an urgent meeting to discuss what assistance the government was willing to provide.

Council regulatory and planning general manager Ian Davidson-Watts said the council’s immediate concern was who was responsible for the storage of the premix.

“As we contemplate the type of regulatory action we will take, the council needs to be absolutely certain who is responsible for the storage of this substance.”

The council will continue to monitor ammonia levels and flood protection measures will remain in place.