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Nelson Deaths Ignored By Govt Depts

Nelson Deaths Ignored By Govt Depts

This is an appeal to the Ministries in Parliament to address a very important issue that has gone unnoticed and has only been recently been exposed by the media and campaigners.

The issue concerns the use of methyl bromide fumigation, which is undertaken at most of the major ports in New Zealand. Fumigation is used in post harvest treatment of logs and timber to eradicate insects for acceptable shipment abroad. It is also used for quarantine purposes, such as in fumigating containers with food and goods coming into the country, as well as fumigation of automobiles from abroad as a biosecurity measure. Methyl bromide is also used as a soil fumigant in our agriculture industry on a wide scale, such as in growing strawberries etcet. It is also very effective.

However it is exceedingly toxic. It is also one of the worst depleters of the planets Ozone layer, fifty times worse than the banned chlorofluorocarbons, still it continues to be used. Under The Montreal Protocol, it was to be banned in the year 2000, however due to pressure from various lobby groups primarily in the USA and elsewhere, extensions and exemptions were granted. New Zealand has also sought and obtained extensions. It's usage as a soil fumigant was to be banned later this year but a two year extension was granted to N.Z. strawberry growers

Moreover because of its toxicity, it is capable of causing death and intense illness, for those with severe acute or chronic exposure. Problems attending its use may have gone unnoticed were it not for a small group of concerned individuals who stumbled across some very disturbing facts at the Port of Nelson where fumigation activity is pervasive. Campaigners Against the Use of Toxic Sprays (CATS) had recently organized itself and were collecting signatures on a petition to help reduce the use of pesticides in Nelson, when they discovered that a cluster of five Port of Nelson Workers died of Motor Neuron Disease- an extremely rare illness. The widows of these men approached CATS and were then put in touch with one another. CATS has also found other individuals poisoned by mb who have become very ill.

We have acted in an advocacy role since then. We have been to the Nelson City Council and have been in touch with O.S.H and the Health Dep't and the Port of Nelson authorities, to discuss the matter and the various media have been in touch with us. In fact on Sunday 20 Feb TVNZ 1 aired a program on the possible linkage between methyl bromide and mnd and the men who worked at the Port of Nelson who were afflicted poisoned by the substance, and unable to continue working at the port. We have reams of additional information on the subject. Please let us know if you would like to receive more.

Claire Gulman-Spokesperson for C.A.T.S.

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