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About 10,000 tonnes of ouvea premix or dross, which can produce poisonous ammonia gas if wet, was stored in an old paper mill.
Mediation began almost two months ago.
Environment Judge Laurie Newhook this afternoon said the expectation was the accelerated removal would begin the second week of November and ‘‘could conceivably’’ be done by Christmas.
‘‘Constructive progress continues on planning for removal of the ouvea pre-mix from Mataura to an industrial site, but I was informed that final details of complex contractual arrangements among at least seven corporate and government agency parties remain to be concluded.
‘‘I was advised that those parties are meeting next week with a view to negotiate and settle the final details for putting the contracts in place.’’
Under an old agreement, it would be gone by 2022.
The Environmental Defence Society filed its Environment Court application in July and argued New Zealand Aluminium Smelters breached its discharge permit when the aluminium dross was moved off-site from the Tiwai Point smelter, and was responsible for removing the dross by-products from the Mataura site.
The smelter’s notice of opposition stated it acted reasonably in contracting Taha Asia Pacific, which had the responsibility over the material as it was processed into the ouvea premix. It said there was no breach of its discharge permit.