Port Marlboroughs Independent Fumigation Monitoring A Sham

Port Marlborough’s sole owner, the Marlborough District Council, should take a leaf out of Taupo District Council’s book and ban aerial 1080 drops, but also immediately ban the release to air of tonnes of methyl bromide gas, according to the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand.

“This weekend’s release of several tonnes of the neurotoxic methyl bromide gas from log fumigation into the atmosphere at Shakespeare Bay, Picton (photo 6419), was typical of the cavalier attitude to the community and environment by the Council, Port Marlborough, fumigation company Genera, log exporter Zindia, and also the so called independent monitoring company SKM,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“A series of breaches of best practice for fumigations, and community and environmental care included;
Wind conditions at times beyond Port Marlborough’s own limits.

The so-called ‘independent’ monitoring company employing fumigation company, Genera, staff.

A launch coming along side and down wind as gas was being vented from one of the log ship Super Challenger’s holds. (photo 6432, 6446)

When the wind changed, gas, from on shore log stacks under previously billowing tarpaulins (photo 6454), was released in the direction of the interislander ferry terminal.

No one in the vicinity of the fumigation appeared to be wearing safety masks.” (photo 6452)
“To top it off, sawn timber that would normally have been fumigated under strict conditions in Nelson, where the gas would have been recaptured, was being fumigated near Picton with all the gas being released into the surrounding air,” said Mr Browning, who spent several hours observing the facility on Saturday.

“Why should the Picton community put up with anything less than the best practice conditions imposed by the Environment Court in Nelson?”

“The monitoring is a farce, as air modelling to determine where the invisible and odourless methyl bromide gas will move, has not been done for Picton, and the siting of monitors around the fence line has little relevance to likely air flows of the fumigant.”

“Taupo District Council (Note 1) made good use last week of Section 10(b) of the Local Government Act (Note 2),

To enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities

To promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities, now and for the future,
in immediately banning aerial drops of 1080. That example should be used by the Marlborough District Council in response to the wide level of community opposition to both 1080 and methyl bromide being used recklessly in the environment.”

The fumigation was on the back of significant public disquiet, and a protest (photo 6239) at the last Marlborough District Council meeting, where the Council which receives significant income from Port activities, decided to allow fumigations to continue for at least a year; until the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) has completed a reassessment of the fumigant.

“Taupo District Council properly used its powers, for the immediate ban on aerial drops of 1080 poison in that region, regardless of ERMA’s soft 2007 1080 reassessment decision. Marlborough District Council can do the same,” said Mr Browning.

‘Until air modelling and then recapture of the gas following fumigation occurs, large scale methyl bromide fumigation must stop.”

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 or the aerial discharge of toxins such as 1080.

NOTE: (1,2) below.

Photographs are available in larger format.


(1) The Taupo District Council resolution follows:
That the Taupo District Council, in accordance with the Section 10b of the Local Government Act 2002, advocate with central government and appropriate agencies, viz:
a. To develop a sustainable alternative possum eradication and trapping programme.
b. For the abolition of all aerial dropping of 1080 poison forthwith.
(2) Extracts from localcouncils.govt.nz

What do our Councils do?
A quick look at the Local Government Act 2002 shows the expectations of councils, briefly–
The purpose of local government is –
To enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities
To promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities, now and for the future. (Local Government Act 2002, section 10 (b)).
The role of local authorities is to lead and represent their communities. They must engage with their communities and encourage community participation in decision-making, while considering the needs of people currently living in communities and those who will live there in the future.

The Local Government Act 2002, section 12(2), gives councils wide scope to do anything within the context of the purpose of local government.

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