Methyl bromide fumigation of logs for India at Picton this weekend is not expected to meet phytosanitary requirements due to cold temperatures and so unnecessarily risks the health of the community and environment, according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ.
The log ship Maipo River is due into Port Marlborough’s Shakepeare Bay port on June 14 to pick up logs pre-fumigated during this coming weekend. The log destination country, India’s phyto-sanitary requirements against New Zealand insect pests, stipulates that logs must be fumigated for 24 hours at more than 10°C. (1,2,3)
“With an expected overnight low in nearby Blenheim of 3°C on Saturday night and a high of only 11°C on Sunday with a minimum of just 1°C, fumigation in Picton will be a dangerous farce,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.(4)
“Someone is cooking the books.”
“The importing country’s fumigation requirements will not be met and yet tons of neurotoxic ozone depleting methyl bromide gas will be released from under log stack tarpaulins, into the environment and ferry shipping channels. A fruitless exercise.”
“Building fumigation and gas recovery sheds at New Zealand ports could allow both temperature control and recapture of methyl bromide, reducing risk to the community and damage to the ozone layer, yet greed by exporters, fumigators and port companies allows cheating and unsafe practices to continue.”
“As the cool weather has descended, Port Marlborough’s live website weather portal has stopped running correctly and historical data stops at May 13, ensuring no temperature details for the most recent fumigation exist.”(5,6)
Soil & Health has monitored weather conditions during Picton fumigations through the Port Marlborough website until now and recently showed images from the site to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA), during its hearings for the reassessment of methyl bromide use in New Zealand. The decision is pending.
Removing community access to real-time data reduces independent monitoring of log fumigations which have a history of conflicts of interest. Soil & Health and local campaigners, Guardians of the Sounds, have pointed out the use of fumigation staff by monitoring agencies, and the ownership of the port companies by local and regional councils who resist strict air safety rules while collecting log shipment revenues.
“Soil & Health’s submission to ERMA included a request to implement methyl bromide gas recapture and the use of alternative non-toxic methods of pest control. With methyl bromide having no colour or stench and no authoritive understanding of gas drift direction, the toxic gas could be affecting numerous people following its release to air, and will eventually damage the ozone layer affecting climate change,” said Mr Browning.
“Fumigation company Genera may be fudging data to meet India’s import requirements and with the company fumigating below temperature specifications last year also, there should be urgent temperature monitoring at all New Zealand fumigation facilities to ensure that Genera is not exposing New Zealanders, the environment and ozone layer to methyl bromide for no real purpose.”
Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020 where pest control is achieved with less toxic controls and the health of the community is given priority above the financial gains of exporters, fumigators and commercially driven port companies.
Notice of Methyl Bromide Fumigation at Shakespeare Bay
9 June, 2010
Venting of deck cargo for the MV Maipo River is expected to occur on 13th June. Fumigation operations are required to comply with the port company’s requirements that enforce a maximum permissible discharge to air at the port boundary of one part per million (1ppm) as measured and managed by independent monitoring.
(3) India – Logs to India require fumigation with MB at:
· 48gm/m3 at>21°Cfor24hours.
· 56 gm/m3 at 16-20°C for 24 hours.
· 64gm/m3 at 11-15°C for 24 hours.
· 72 gm/m3 at 10-11 °C for 24 hours.
· China will allow less than 10°C but at the 5-15°C temperature range requires significantly more (120gm/m3 methyl bromide to be used for at least 16hrs.