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MfE pulls plug on agrichemical disposal

November 24, 2006

MfE pulls the plug on contribution to agrichemical disposal in Canterbury

Environment Canterbury says a decision by the Ministry for the Environment not to contribute to the safe disposal of agrichemicals in Canterbury this financial year will significantly affect the level of service to the community.

The joint initiative between Environment Canterbury, territorial authorities and the Ministry for the Environment aimed to clear the Canterbury region of all historic stockpiles of agrichemicals by 2014. “However this late withdrawal of central government’s support has weakened our programme and will significantly increase the timeframes for the completion of this work,” says Cr Ross Little, Environment Canterbury’s waste, hazardous substances and contaminated sites portfolio chairman.

The joint effort between ECan and councils throughout Canterbury over the past four years removed and safely disposed of 144 tonnes of redundant agrichemicals from rural areas. Cr Little says MfE’s withdrawal from the programme may undermine a successful project that has gathered a strong momentum.

MfE contributed to the project by paying for the disposal of most of the intractable chemicals. These are chemicals that can’t be disposed of locally but have to be shipped overseas to either Germany or France for destruction through high temperature incineration. In the 2004/05 Canterbury agrichemical collection, MfE paid for the disposal of 45 tonnes of material and in 2005/06 for 24 tonnes.

“In real terms it has meant a reduction from a potential collection of over 35 tonnes to less than 13,” says Cr Little. “We can only dispose of a small percentage of chemicals locally.”

As a result, Environment Canterbury and territorial authorities will be looking at collecting less agrichemicals in four remaining regions this financial year. The districts of Selwyn, Timaru, Ashburton and Waimakariri will together contribute more than $100,000 to the project, while Environment Canterbury will provide more than $120,000. Reducing the amount to be collected this year means that it will take longer to pick up the full backlog of unwanted chemicals in these districts and increase the risks these agrichemicals pose to people and the environment, said Cr Little.


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