Public meeting to seek awswers about premix

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Organisers of a public meeting want answers about when the 10,000 tonnes of Ouvea premix at the former Carter Holt Harvey paper mill in Mataura will be removed and who will carry out the work.

The public meeting will be held at the Mataura Community Centre on Friday, August 25, starting at 7pm.

Organisers are asking local government officials such as Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt and Southland Mayor Gary Tong to talk at the meeting.

Taha Asia Pacific went into liquidation in August last year, but the company’s store of premix still sits at the former Carter Holt Harvey paper mill in Mataura.

Taha Fertiliser Industries was granted a retrospective resource consent by the Gore District Council to store Ouvea premix at the Mataura site, on the banks of the Mataura River, in 2015.

Taha Fertiliser Industries, which is also in liquidation, is an offshoot of Taha Asia Pacific.

Longtime Mataura resident Laurel Turnbull, who is among those organising the meeting, wants to know when the premix will be moved and who will carry out the operation.

“We’ve got to do something. If we don’t, the damn stuff could still be there in 10 or 20 years,” Mrs Turnbull said.

She urged residents to attend the meeting.

Mrs Turnbull said when the liquidation was announced it was a shock and a “huge” concern.

Concerns about flooding were aired at resource consent hearings as the former paper mill is on the Mataura River bank.

Mrs Turnbull said residents were still angry the company was allowed to store the premix in the building.

“I’ve spoken to a few people and they’re keen to have a public meeting,” Mrs Turnbull said.

If the heavy flooding that hit parts of New Zealand as far south as Milton recently had struck Eastern Southland, there could have been cause for alarm if the paper mill was flooded, she said.

“January [2018] is the deadline when it’s [the premix] supposed to be gone by,” she said.

She wanted to know who owned the premix and who would move it.

She was told it would take five months to move the 10,000 tonnes of premix by truck, she said.

Mataura was not the only centre where the premix was stored and there were about six sites throughout Southland where the premix was stored, she said.

Labour Party Clutha-Southland candidate Cherie Chapman would be chairing the meeting, she said.

Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry said a resource consent was in place.

“It’s lawfully allowed to be stored there until January next year,” Mr Parry said.

The owner of the former paper mill, Greg Paterson, was accountable and he had been notified and should be working on a solution, Mr Parry said.

“We’ve been in discussions with the landlord,” he said.

Mr Paterson said the matter was still in the hands of the receiver.

“So we’ve just got to wait and see what the receiver does,” Mr Paterson said.

Ms Chapman said the aim of the meeting was to find a solution to the problem.

Invitations had been sent to a variety of entities, including the three councils, Environment Southland, Hokonui Runanga, Mr Paterson and the Green Party, Ms Chapman said.