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NZ Supports Control Of Toxic Substances

NZ Supports International Control Of Toxic Substances

New Zealand will tonight sign up to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff, and the Minister for the Environment, Marian Hobbs, said today.

The "POPs" convention aims to protect human health and the environment from some of the world's most dangerous pollutants. It covers 12 pollutants, known as "the dirty dozen", because they are highly toxic, degrade very slowly, accumulate in the food chain, and travel long distances.

The Convention bans production and use of 10 POP chemicals and commits countries to minimise releases of a further two unintentional by-product pollutants. It also establishes a mechanism for adding new POPs to the list in the future, subject to scientific criteria.

"We are very pleased that the convention fits well with work already underway in New Zealand to deal with POPs," Marian Hobbs said. "It is also extremely encouraging that international reaction to the convention from governments, the general public, and business alike has been overwhelmingly positive."

Phil Goff said that in 1995, the international community decided to protect human health and the environment from these substances, and international negotiations began in 1998.

"Today’s signing by so many countries demonstrates how governments work together for the good of all," he added.

New Zealand has already de-registered or made illegal the production or use of such POPs as DDT, dieldren and PCB, so the principles of the convention are not new to New Zealanders, Marian Hobbs said.

"Also, dioxin emissions have been reduced over the past decade and further reductions will be sought," she added. "All New Zealanders will have a role to play, as dioxins are emitted by both industrial and domestic activity, and particularly by the burning of wastes."

More than 100 countries are expected to sign in Stockholm. The New Zealand Ambassador in The Hague, Christopher Butler, will sign for the government.

The Convention comes into force when 50 countries have ratified it.


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