NZ First list MP Mark Patterson told the Environment Select Committee that if the hazardous substance left in a Mataura warehouse was in downtown Auckland or Wellington, it would have been gone in weeks.
“On behalf of the people of Mataura, this stuff has to go.’’
Mr Patterson fronted up to the Environment Select on Thursday to present his petition, which requests that ‘the House of Representatives urge the Government to take any means necessary to remove the aluminium dross from the Mataura paper mill site and relocate it to Tiwai Point.’
It was signed by 1534 people.
The dross, which produces ammonia gas if it gets wet, was left in the flood-prone paper mill building by Taha Asia Pacific when the company went into receivership in 2016.
Mr Patterson told the committee that the current rate of removal of ouvea premix from the warehouse, which is next to the Mataura River, is ‘’no-where near fast enough,’’ and it would take another two years before the warehouse was emptied.
”It is my view that the core failure that has lead to this petition being heard today is the failure of due diligence by New Zealand Aluminium Smelter...contracting out this environmentally toxic material and the processing of, in this case to a group of cowboys who rode out of town at the first sign of trouble, and to deal with the aftermath of a failed contract,’’ he said.
“The landlord of the paper mill should not have accepted the product or receiving it without a resource consent, it’s questionable whether the Gore District Council should have allowed the subsequent retrospective consent, it’s fair to ask where on earth have Environment Southland been in this process, and the people of Mataura want to know where is their entity of last resort – central Government?”
“It is hard for me to reconcile that if this product was sitting in central Auckland, or central Wellington, in a flood zone, that it would not have been gone in weeks.
“That the people of Mataura are sitting there six years later, pawns in a power play between central Government and a massive multi-national, is unconscionable.’’