“Sort the dross” protesters make their point to motorists travelling to the Tiwai Smelter Potline 4 reopening celebration.
While the green credentials of Tiwai aluminium were front-and-centre at the Potline 4 reopening on Thursday, roadside protesters were warning about the lingering presence of dross byproduct.
The Dross Action Group cited 30,000 tonnes of ouvea premix still at the former Mataura paper mill, Invercargill storehouses and Colyer road.
The now-defunct Taha Asia Pacific had under contract taken smelter dross, extracted further aluminium and processed the remainder into ouvea premix, for fertiliser.
But Taha went into liquidation in 2016 and the contentious issue of responsibility for all the unclaimed leftovers ended when a deal was struck under which the Government and NZAS carried three-quarters of the cost and southern councils and landlords divvied up the rest.
Group spokesperson Cherie Chapman said an overseas buyer for the premix had yet to sign off on the contract. And there were still tonnes of dross on a Greenhills farm.
The community had waited too long for removal of a toxic time bomb, Chapman said. Had the Mataura mill flooded, as was threatened, in February it would have been an ecological disaster.
“We believe NZAS should step up and offer to store the remaining ouvea premix on-site until the alleged buyer has signed on the dotted line.”
The group wanted an independent inquiry into NZAS waste management and for Environment Southland to develop clear protocols around monitoring, product checking, storing and disposal.