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Environment court judge Laurie Newhook believes the ouvea premix stored in a former paper mill in Mataura could be removed as soon as Christmas.
The removal of ouvea premix from the former paper mill in Mataura could be completed by Christmas, Environment Court Judge Laurie Newhook says.
A follow up court-assisted mediation was held in Invercargill between New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) and the Environmental Defence Society on October 16.
The society filed declaration proceedings in the Christchurch Environment Court in July concerning the storage of the premix, which is a class-6 hazardous substance that releases ammonia gas if it gets wet.
The proceedings will determine whether NZAS is responsible for removing the premix.
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Previous settlement conferences were held in Invercargill on September 9, with two others held electronically on September 28 and October 9.
Judge Newhook said excellent progress continued on planning the removal of the ouvea premix.
Accelerated removal would be commencing in the first week in November and could be completed by Christmas, depending on weather, he said.
A further follow-up judicial settlement is scheduled for October 30, which Judge Newhook hoped would finalise the report.
Ouvea premix is a processed by-product of the smelting process.
Taha Asia Pacific, which owned the premix and had a contract with NZAS, went into liquidation in 2016, leaving 10,000 tonnes of the substance in the Mataura building and more in Invercargill and Awarua.
In December 2017, liquidators formally disclaimed the premix.
In February, flooding on the Mataura River created concerned that it might breach the mill.
At the time, Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said something needed to be done to help residents.