Premix ‘not a ticking time bomb’

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The Ouvea premix stored at the former Carter Holt Harvey paper mill in Mataura is “not a ticking time bomb”, the Mataura Community Board says.

Board member Linda Sinclair said at the board’s meeting on Monday night she did not want to alarm the community unnecessarily.

Labour’s Clutha-Southland candidate Cherie Chapman attended the meeting, along with resident Laurel Turnbull.

Fellow board member and Mataura Volunteer Fire Brigade deputy fire chief Neville Phillips said he had done his homework on the premix and Fire Emergency New Zealand had also carried out testing and had an action plan in place in case of any incidents.

“A lot of people don’t understand that, if it goes wrong, that it’s not a catastrophe; it’s not a ticking time bomb,” Mr Phillips said.

Board member Geoff Coleman said if there was a flood, water would be flowing down the Mataura River at about 2000 cubic metres per second, and any premix that got into the river would be heavily diluted.

Board chairman Alan Taylor reminded those present there was a process to go through and the premix was legally stored at the site until the consent expired in January next year.

Talk of the possibility of leakage of the premix because of events such as flooding was speculation, Mr Taylor said.

“You can’t solve the problem with ‘what ifs’,” he said.

“I believe the liquidator is doing his utmost for the community,” Mr Taylor said.

It was important to maintain an open mind when considering possible solutions, Mr Taylor said.

Mrs Sinclair said options for further processing of the premix, floated at a public meeting held in Mataura on Friday night, needed to be explored.

Board members were happy to work with the group being formed as a result of the meeting, which was called to discuss the issues surrounding the premix being stored in the town.