Alternative sites for dross being canvassed

The flooded Mataura River rips past the former Mataura paper mill. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
The flooded Mataura River rips past the former Mataura paper mill. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Alternative locations for the potentially toxic dross being stored in Mataura are being canvassed, after talks with New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) were put on hold.

Ministry for the Environment waste director Shaun Lewis appeared before the environment select committee yesterday to submit on MP Mark Patterson’s petition to remove the dross from the Mataura Paper Mill.

The building is used to store ouvea premix, a by-product of production at NZAS’ Tiwai Point facility.

If the dross mixes with water, it can create a toxic ammonia gas.

The petition asks the Government to employ any means necessary to remove the aluminium dross from the site and relocate it to Tiwai Point.

Mr Lewis said negotiations with NZAS were put on hold about a week and a-half ago, and alternative locations for the dross to be stored were being investigated.

When asked about possible domestic options for disposal other than just storage, Mr Lewis said there were some possibilities.

But it was difficult to test how viable and expensive they were.

One canvassed option was to use it in the cement-making process at Golden Bay Cement.

"That requires some retrofitting of the site," he said.

"So it doesn’t come without complexity and the pace at which they would be able to do that is questionable as well."

The option was not "actively being explored", but it was on the table, he said.

Comments

Return to sender.

As most of the raw materials (bauxite) used in aluminium comes from Australian mines, I suggest we send their rubbish back to them ... at Rio Tinto's expense.

How long before the place closes? NZ needs to make sure they tidy this up before they close. It is called accountability - calculate a clean-up cost, times it by 100, and that is the fine they will get if it is not done. Isn't health and safety now part of the CEO's responsibility - simple if not fully sorted throw him or her in jail along with senior managers. It happens in the Middle East - trust me - I was told at a meeting that our reps would be met at the airport and passports confiscated - and we had done all our contract obligations, it was only because the customer wanted free work done.

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