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CCA-contaminated sites ticking time-bombs

CCA-contaminated sites ticking time-bombs

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today she and other environmentalists had been warning for at least 20 years that sites contaminated by CCA timber treatment were ticking time bombs.

The forestry industry had to begin growing a much more diverse range of forestry species to get around the unnecessary use of toxic treatments and move to safer woods, Ms Fitzsimons said.

"New Zealand's monoculture of pinus radiata and the narrow focus of the forestry and timber industries on just one species has committed us to a much greater use of toxic chemicals than would be necessary if we grew a wider range of species.

"Pine is fine for some things, but if we were to grow a lot more cypresses like macrocarpa and lusitanica and some species of eucalypts, it would make phasing out CCA-treated timber a lot easier. These woods are naturally resistant to rot and borer - so all exterior building work like weatherboards, decks and balconies would not need treatment at all, as long as they do not actually touch the ground."

Ms Fitzimons pointed out that barns built of macrocarpa with no treatment or paint were still sound after many decades.

"When you buy a treated timber fencepost, half of what you pay is for the wood and the other half is for imported non-renewable and highly toxic chemicals. That's a cost to the New Zealand economy as well as a toxicity problem," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"There are species like robinia and catalpa which will last in the ground, as will many natives, which is another reason for plantations of indigenous species.

"Only the farm forestry sector has become seriously involved in species other than pine. Only when the industry and the consumer has to pay the true environmental costs of toxic preservatives will there be a market advantage for species that don't need them," Ms Fitzsimons added.

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