Update from Judge about ouvea pre-mix removal
Minute released by Alternate Environment Judge Newhook
Judge’s minute about Environmental Defence Society's court proceedings concerning ouvea premix removal at Mataura
2 February 2021
 I am pleased to announce that agreement has been reached by the parties in this case to fast-track the removal of aluminium by-product material (ouvea premix) from the old Mataura paper mill site. The expedited removal process is under way now and is expected to be completed by mid-year.
 The by-product is being transported to the New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS) site at Tiwai Point where it will be stored in containers. The Crown has provided an indemnity to NZAS for certain losses it could incur through the storage of the material.
 I consider that the agreement will give Mataura residents peace of mind, freeing them from anxiety about the risk of water from the river impacting the material.
 I understand that in time the product will be exported.
 I believe the agreement offers twin benefits of protecting the wellbeing of Southland's people and its waterways.
 The agreement is the outcome of negotiations between the parties, facilitated by me on behalf of the Environment Court, following legal action brought by the Environmental Defence Society to determine ownership and responsibility for removing the ouvea premix.
 The Minister for the Environment joined the proceedings to facilitate a solution for removing the material from Mataura.
 The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and NZAS will share the additional costs required to accelerate the removal of material from the Mataura site. Each will contribute 50 percent.
 I am satisfied this agreement takes proper account of the history of the material being stored at Mataura, and the urgent need to remove it for the benefit of our environment and Mataura residents.
 This is a stand-alone agreement to resolve the current situation and is not related to any agreement on the smelter's future or remediation of Tiwai Point.
 I am assured that the health and safety of communities and of contractors involved in the removal of the material from Tiwai and its storage at Tiwai, are upper-most in the minds of the parties in reaching this agreement.