Picton Fumigators Will Fail Safety & Indian Requirements

The log ship Pos Brave currently being loaded at Port Marlborough’s Shakespeare Bay is intended to be fumigated along with log stacks under tarpaulins, using several tonnes of toxic ozone depleting methyl bromide gas, although a Department of Labour inquiry into how a tarpaulin came loose during the last fumigation is unfinished, according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ.
Soil & Health also points out that the phyto-sanitary requirements for methyl bromide fumigation for export logs to India will not be able to be met during the intended fumigation period over the next few days, as average temperatures will be well under the minimum 10-11 °C required to satisfy India’s biosecurity needs.
“Fumigator Genera with its litany of leaks needs to be stopped in its tracks from further risky fumigations near Picton. Genera has also had fumigation covers blown off and then shredded at other ports (1), allowing hundreds of kilograms of the highly toxic methyl bromide gas to be released at a time without warning,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“Genera has been reckless concerning its safety standards in several instances that I have been aware of, including at the Ports of Nelson, Picton, Wellington and Tauranga, and communities deserve better. Soil & Health has photographic and video evidence for both Picton and Wellington which it will present to the Environmental Risk Management Authority.”
“By giving fumigator Genera and log exporter Zindia yet another chance as they combine logs from outside Marlborough into the fumigation parcels at Picton, Port Marlborough’s profit focused directors along with Port Marlborough owner the Marlborough District Council, show that commercial imperatives come before the health and safety of workers, ferry passengers and staff, and the residents of Shakespeare Bay and the Picton area.”
“Marlborough District Council’s assurances that a meeting of its Environment Policy Committee, sometime after the looming fumigation, will allow Soil & Health and industry to present their views ahead of a drawn out RMA air plan change, does nothing except fudge the issue and prolongs fumigation at Picton,” said Mr Browning.
“The Council and Port Marlborough are showing no real resolve to stop this archaic practice. Although the Marlborough District Council’s rules are particularly weak around gas discharge in the port area, they still preclude release of toxic fumigant gases, as they are offensive beyond the Port boundary. The Port can stop the fumigation at will. No enforcement of the discharge rule makes the Council immediately complicit.”
“Picton is clearly the scapegoat for a frustrated forestry industry and opportunistic port company, as similar fumigations cannot proceed in neighbouring Nelson (2) due to the human health and safety and the ozone depleting risks of large scale methyl bromide fumigations have been carefully considered by the Environment Court there, and found to be unacceptable.”
The complex Sounds valley system of land and sea make assumptions on released fumigant gas direction difficult, and as done in Port Nelson, air modelling must be undertaken ahead of new Marlborough District Council rules around fumigation. In the meanwhile all fumigation at Port Shakespeare must stop.
“Soil & Health has campaigned against methyl bromide fumigation for many years and now vindicated by the decisions of both the European Parliament and of the Environment Court in Nelson, will continue to campaign for a clean green Aotearoa New Zealand and against methyl bromide use. Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020.”
(1) Please click the links below for photographs of Genera’s remnant fumigation covers at Wellington’s Centre Port following high winds March 2008: wellington logs air 110 308 035; /att/GetAttachment.aspx?tnail=1&messageId=689b4388-d3a3-4059-ba5d-782ebf08897c&Aux=4|0|8CBFA41FC8B6A20|
(2) Clippings from Port Nelson’s 2008 Annual Report below.
Clippings from Port Nelson’s 2008 Annual Report.
The Environment Court hearing into fumigation activities at Port Nelson saw a move towards the use of recapture technology, which will be a first for New Zealand ports. We strongly support progress on this issue and also look forward to the relevant authorities making such technology mandatory around the country in the future, rather than purely in isolated cases such as ours.
The Environmental Committee has continued to meet and we again thank those committee members for their efforts and enthusiasm.
Some progress was made this year towards peace of mind for port workers and protection of the ozone layer from discharges of the toxic, ozone-depleting gas methyl bromide. In June 2008 the final ruling of the Environment Court hearing into regulation of fumigant use by the Nelson City Council Air Plan was received.
The court imposed a new chronic limit to be included in the Nelson City Council’s air quality plan, restricting annual average concentrations of methyl bromide to 0.0025 mg/m3 or less at the port boundary.
Permitted rules came into effect immediately to allow a limited number of container fumigations without recapture at specified distances from port boundary. A maximum of 3kgs of fumigant may be used, staggered venting protocols must be followed and better information is to be supplied to the Port Gatehouse to allow the activity to be monitored.
All other fumigations are controlled activities and require recapture technology, with a longer lead-in time for this part of the ruling. A resource consent showing how compliance will be achieved must be lodged by December 2008.

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