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NZ Can't Continue Turning A Blind Eye To Dioxins

Green MP Sue Kedgley today welcomed the Government's intention to introduce a national environmental standard under the Resource Management Act to regulate dioxin emissions from industrial facilities, but said urgent additional steps were needed to start to reduce dioxin contamination in New Zealand.

Ms Kedgley was responding to Government papers that show New Zealanders have been exposed to unacceptable levels of dioxin - in some cases with dietary intake of dioxin 70 times higher than recommended.

Ms Kedgley said incinerators that emit any airborne dioxins should be closed down, the use and burning of any organochlorine waste should be prohibited, and the use of PVCs by industry and chlorine bleaching of pulp and paper should be phased out.

"There are alternative technologies available for these processes which do not produce dioxins, and industry should be required to convert to these," she said.

As well, dioxin contaminated sites around New Zealand should be cleaned up and the government should have a purchasing policy of only using chlorine-free paper and not using building materials that contain PVS's.

"Without specific measures in place to phase out all industrial processes and products that produce dioxins, the standard could be used to legitimise existing dioxin contamination and the continued use of dioxin-emitting products and processes."

Ms Kedgley said she was also concerned at the suggestion that the Government would set threshold levels and 'acceptable health safety margins' for dioxin emissions, given that there are no safe levels of dioxins.

Ms Kedgley said the alarmingly high levels of dioxin in New Zealanders blood, and the high dietary intake of dioxins were a result of successive governments and local Councils turning a blind to industrial activities that produce dioxins, and downplaying the health risks of exposure to dioxins.

"The Dow chemical plant is a classic example," Ms Kedgley said. "Just a couple of years ago, the Taranaki District Council gave Dow Elanco a resource consent to emit airborne dioxins at 50 times the European safety level. This is scandalous, and Government leadership is urgently needed to ensure that all airborne emissions of dioxins from industrial sites are eliminated in New Zealand."

Sue Kedgley: 04 4706728, 025 270 9088; Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 440 090

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