Marlborough Needs To Clean Up Its Air

The Marlborough District Council and its subsidiary company Port Marlborough need to commit to a ban on the release to air of methyl bromide log fumigants, at least until the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) has completed its reassessment of the neurotoxic gas next year, according to the Soil & Health Association.
The Marlborough District Council was due to decide today on the recommendation of its Environmental Policy Committee that any decision relating to methyl bromide log fumigation at Port Marlborough should wait until after the ERMA reassessment. Soil & Health believes that is the wrong way around and lacks responsibility and the correct precautionary approach.
Methyl bromide fumigations at Port Marlborough had stopped in September 2007 following significant publicity but began again earlier this year.
“The Marlborough Mayor and Councillors all know that Nelson has been through a rigorous Environment Court process for its Port fumigation activities, and now has stringent rules that offer the port workers, and the Nelson people and environment, a reasonable level of protection,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“Log fumigation releasing several tonnes of the very dangerous gas at each log shipment, is no longer possible in Nelson. Precaution and common sense say that the same risks exist in Picton and Shakespeare Bay, and until gas recapture technology as is being developed in Nelson can occur in Marlborough, log fumigations must stop.”
Today’s Picton and Blenheim protest against methyl bromide log fumigation, organised by the Guardians of the Sounds group, is supported by Soil & Health who initiated public response to the methyl bromide issue in both Picton and Wellington.
“Both Wellington and Picton ports have had fumigation tarpaulins blown off log stacks during high winds, releasing hundreds of kilograms of toxic and ozone depleting gas unexpectedly,” said Mr Browning.
Wellington’s Regional Council owned CentrePort, has been reported to be now fumigating logs only in the ships hold, to better able controlled release of the toxic gas. However Mr Browning points out that even then, the Port companies have no real idea where the gas will go, as they have not computer modelled the air flow.
‘Until air modelling and then recapture of the gas following fumigation occurs, large scale methyl bromide fumigation must stop.”
“Marlborough councillors, nearly all of whom in the 2007 local body election campaign opposed the Picton fumigations, know that Nelson has led the way, but for short term economic imperatives seem now prepared to risk community and environmental health.”
“With Europe effectively banning methyl bromide fumigant release to air early next year, maybe Marlborough’s short term economic outlook may get a bite in its clean green sauvignon blanc reputation, when word of high spray drift and ozone depleting fumigations get to those discerning markets.”
“Marlborough, the Picton community and the ozone layer deserve better now. Soil & Health hopes the Council will listen to its community and stop the gas.”
Soil & Health has a motto of Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Healthy People, and has a vision of an Organic 2020 that does not include the use of neurotoxic, ozone depleting fumigants.

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