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New Zealand ratifies convention on toxic chemicals

New Zealand ratifies convention on toxic chemicals

New Zealand has committed itself to reducing health and environmental risks from highly toxic chemicals by ratifying the international Stockholm Convention. Environment and Associate Foreign Minister Marian Hobbs announced the ratification today.

"The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants requires all parties to commit themselves to a long-term international effort to reduce or eliminate health and environmental risks from chemicals specified in the convention," Marian Hobbs said.

The chemicals that the convention focuses on include PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and furans, and nine organochlorine pesticides. Although the Stockholm Convention entered into force globally on 17 May 2004, New Zealand waited until the necessary legislation and regulations were in place domestically before ratifying, Marian Hobbs said.

As a party to the convention, New Zealand will ban the manufacture and use of the toxic chemicals covered by the convention. Future efforts will focus on reducing dioxin emissions, cleaning up industrial sites, and on collecting and disposing of hazardous waste pesticides.

Marian Hobbs said significant progress was being made in meeting New Zealand’s obligations.

"We are working already with local government on a programme to recover and destroy stockpiles of obsolete agricultural chemicals," the minister said. "The Ministry for the Environment is working with Tasman District Council to clean up the former Fruitgrowers Chemical Company site in Mapua, contaminated with DDT and dieldrin.

"We are also introducing National Environmental Standards that will reduce emissions of dioxins and furans."

Marian Hobbs said that the Ministry for the Environment would prepare a National Implementation Plan over the next 18 months to further outline New Zealand plans to meet its obligations under the Convention. Further information about the Stockholm Convention can be found on: http://www.pops.int/ For information on New Zealand research into persistent organic pollutants: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/hazardous/#organochlorines

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