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Hazardous substances under new management

2 April 2004 Media Statement

Hazardous substances under new management

Many of New Zealand's most-used hazardous substances will be more effectively managed with the phasing out of the old Dangerous Goods Act and their transfer to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act.

Among them are major fuels such as petrol, diesel and natural gas as well as solvents such as kerosene, turpentine and white spirits.

"As from April 1, 80 per cent by volume of the country’s hazardous substances come under HSNO, compared with one per cent as of March 31," the Minister for the Environment, Marian Hobbs said.

"With their transfer to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, these substances will be governed by new sets of controls designed to protect public health and safety as well as the environment. The controls cover the lifecycle of substances, including handling, labelling, packaging, storage and disposal."

The transfer of dangerous goods to the HSNO Act is a major development in the management of hazardous substances in New Zealand.

"The Act brings all hazardous substances under one piece of legislation and improves enforcement of how substances are used and stored," Marian Hobbs said.

"The new regime is also more convenient for those importing, manufacturing, using and storing these hazardous substances because they now have a single agency to deal with – the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA)."

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Transitional Provisions and Controls) Amendment Act simplified some of the procedures ERMA has to follow in transferring hazardous substances to HSNO, so speeding up the process.

Organisations and businesses importing, manufacturing, using or storing the dangerous goods subject to the April 1 transfer will have a six-month transition period to comply with the HSNO regime. In the meantime, their dangerous goods licences will be automatically renewed to ensure they are covered for insurance purposes.

ERMA has set up a freephone line to help with queries: 0800 ERMADG (376 234)

ENDS

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