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Troubled waters . . .Mataura resident Laurel Turnbull says two years is a long time to wait before the ouvea premix is removed from the Mataura paper mill. PHOTO: ENSIGN FILES

Laurel Turnbull is pleased the ouvea premix in storehouses throughout Southland is to be moved – but that move cannot come quickly enough for the Mataura resident.

Mrs Turnbull believed the removal needed to take place earlier than the two-year forecast.

“In two years anything can happen, especially with our Mataura River,” Mrs Turnbull said.

“We’ll be pleased to see the last of it.”

Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry said the time delay was due to the needs of the purchaser and what the company could reasonably handle and process, given the downstream demands of the end user.

Fears floodwaters could enter the building, which is sited on the river bank, and sweep the product into the river had been aired since it was known the ouvea premix was stored there.

Mrs Turnbull said it was not ideal that ratepayers might be left to foot the bill for the costs of removal, especially when the saga was not of their making.

Mrs Turnbull paid tribute to former Labour Party Clutha-Southland candidate Cherie Chapman for pushing for a solution.

She questioned what responsibility the independent commissioners had in the saga, as they approved the consent.

Former politican Michael Laws, who represented the Southland landowners involved in the issue, said while all the parties involved in the negotiations were relieved with the outcome, the situation raised some serious policy questions.

Mr Laws questioned how another similar situation could be averted.

“But a wider policy and legal issue also requires serious governmental attention,” he said.

“Under current companies legislation, liquidators can disclaim onerous property and their environmental responsibilities and let others clear up, and pay for, the mess,” he said.

Environment Southland needed to have more effective policies relating to hazardous waste management, he said.

Mr Laws credited the Gore District Council and particularly Mr Parry with being proactive in working towards a solution and acting responsibly in a crisis situation.

But he believed the Government and NZAS should have footed the entire bill for the solution.

Ms Chapman said she was motivated to push for a solution on ethical and environmental grounds.

As soon as she realised the storage building in Mataura was in a flood zone, she saw the need for action.

“I just thought it was ridiculous,” Ms Chapman said.

However, she was pleased a solution had been brokered.

For other stories related to this please see Today’s Ensign.