Sort Out The Dross spokeswoman Laurel Turnbull has slammed the community’s response to a potential ouvea premix scare on Sunday as “blown out of proportion”.
A frost-broken sprinkler sent 10cm of water through the Mataura paper mill but it did not trigger a toxic gas scare.
The dross is stored on pallets inside the mill and was above the water level.
If the dross mixes with water, it can create a toxic ammonia gas cloud.
Mrs Turnbull said she was disappointed in the “hysteria” caused online during the event.
“It was blown out of proportion. I was horrified,” she said.
“It causes hysteria if people are going to get upset like that . It’s a shame. Social media can be quite dangerous.”
If there was a serious risk, the community would have been evacuated, she said.
“We have very reliable emergency services.
“I [have] every faith in our fire chief that if it got out of hand we would have been evacuated.”
Fire and Emergency New Zealand crews in Mataura and hazardous materials personnel from Invercargill were called to the event.
A Fenz spokeswoman said they did not find toxic gas and the scene was turned over to the building owner.
Fenz was well aware of the potential dangers at the site, hence the high number of people called out.
Mrs Turnbull asked people to calm down and allow New Zealand First list MP Mark Patterson to present the group’s petition to Government tomorrow.
Mr Patterson would present the petition with more than 3000 signatures to an environmental select committee and represent the group, she said.
Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said dross should never have been moved to Mataura, and Sunday’s incident showed it needed to be removed as quickly as possible.
“It’s disappointing that this has happened .. I wouldn’t say a bullet dodged, but the sooner we get that substance out of the building, the happier everyone is going to feel,” Mr Hicks said.
“We have a contract.
“I don’t know the exact tonnage that has come out of there but I believe it is up to 1500 tonnes, so it is moving .. but certainly getting it uplifted and shifted to another site would be fantastic.”