Methyl bromide fumigation at ports around New Zealand needs urgent reassessment, according to the Soil & Health Association, following the Marlborough District Council’s refusal to require their Port Company to apply for resource consent to discharge the toxic gas to the Picton environment.
“Port Marlborough has no idea where the gas is going after fumigation covers are pulled off the export log stacks’, said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“The ozone depleting neuro-toxin methyl bromide gas is under contention as it is implicated in 6 Port Nelson workers deaths by motor neuron disease, yet Picton has far less controls than Nelson. Low temperature inversion layers in calm winter time conditions may be particularly dangerous, considering the findings in District Health Board reports for neighbouring Port Nelson gas dispersal modelling.”
“With no Picton air movement modelling to predict the contamination area of the highly toxic, odourless and tasteless gas, workers and tourists in the Port and ferry terminal area, and the greater Picton community may be at risk during every log shipment.”
“The Code of Practice in Picton has not been available to the media and on my inspection showed lack of substance and no community input. The Code of Practice has not been peer reviewed by the Labour Department or Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA).”
“Conflicts of interest between councils with RMA regulatory functions, their council owned dividend generating port companies and the responsibilities of staff need scrutiny, especially Unitary Authorities as in the Nelson Marlborough region, which does not have a regional council”, said Browning.
“The problem however extends nationwide with capture and destruction of methyl bromide fumigant not used with export logs anywhere in New Zealand, and little truly independent monitoring .”
“Responsible methyl bromide fumigators internationally are capturing the gas rather than participating in ozone depletion and risking the health of communities. Log exporters in clean green New Zealand need to lift their game. Methyl bromide is 50 times more damaging to the ozone layer than banned CFC refrigerants.”
“Soil & Health want to see an urgent reassessment by ERMA of methyl bromide use nationally, and immediate precautions on discharge at Picton and other ports.”
“Clean alternatives to neurotoxin ozone depleting gases must be implemented in keeping with Brand New Zealand’s clean green 100% Pure image, and Soil & Health’s vision of an Organic 2020.”