Sigh of relief now we’re finally gone
The government announced yesterday that the 10,000 tonnes of aluminum slag by-products stored in the old Mataura paper mill had been withdrawn.
Dross spokeswoman Laurel Turnbull said yesterday residents of Mataura can now relax knowing that the last of the workers had been transported out of town last week.
“It’s been a long time coming and we can all breathe easy when it rains.
“It’s no longer a threat to the river, and not a threat to us, and it’s just been a long time coming.”
Taha Asia Pacific moved the trash, a byproduct of aluminum production at New Zealand’s Tiwai aluminum smelter, which becomes poisonous when wet, into the town of Southland without permission, then made bankruptcy.
The owner of the Rio Tinto smelter negotiated an agreement with the government and local councils in early 2018 to clean up the waste over six years.
However, floods and a fire last year highlighted the vulnerability of people who lived near the factory and along the Mataura River, sparking outrage among residents and leading to a heated public meeting at which many many community members attended.
Former New Zealand’s first MP Mark Patterson started a petition that drew 1,534 signatures and then presented it to the government in May of last year.
It was then that the Environmental Defense Society took over on behalf of the community, taking legal action to determine who owned and who would remove the equipment.
After eight mediation hearings, overseen by Environmental Tribunal Judge Laurie Newhook, it was agreed that the Department of the Environment would share equally with New Zealand aluminum smelters the additional costs associated with the process. acceleration of the withdrawal.
Each would contribute up to $ 500,000 each for these additional costs.
Ms Turnbull said the agreements to rid the city of the rainbow were made and she sometimes wondered if that day would come.
“If we hadn’t had the flooding last February, I think it would have been there a lot longer.”
Environment Minister David Parker said the last bags of slag were moved from Mataura last Wednesday.
They are stored in airtight shipping containers at the Tiwai Point smelter.
Mr Parker welcomed the news, saying it meant residents no longer had to worry.
“Now that the Mataura site has been cleaned up, the focus will be on removing material from other known Southland sites.”
Mining company Rio Tinto has agreed to pay the $ 6 million cleanup bill.
Members of Sort Out the Dross were taken aback by the announcement of the withdrawal from Ouvea last week, after being told they would receive a two-day warning before the last truck left town, he said. she declared.
“We were going to make a guard of honor out of town for that.”
They had not been invited to a tour of the mill which was operated by the Gore District Council today, she said.
She believed that a community dinner would be organized for everyone to celebrate.