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NZ and Pacific region reducing toxic chemicals

2 March 2005

NZ and Pacific region reducing toxic chemicals

New Zealand with 12 other Pacific nations, including Australia, are meeting in Wellington this week to discuss how to achieve Stockholm Convention guidelines to reduce and eliminate highly toxic chemicals.

The chemicals are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) – such as dioxins and furans, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), DDT and dieldrin.

"International experience in reducing these chemicals is being shared with Pacific nations at a special United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) meeting," Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said. "By helping each other, Pacific nations can lead the world with their efforts to deal with some of the worst chemicals of the 20th century." The meeting runs from 2-4 March and is co-hosted by the Ministry for the Environment and the United Nations Environment Programme. Established by the UN more than 20 years ago, the United Nations Environment Programme works to encourage nations to improve their quality of life and their environment.

New Zealand and 150 other countries have signed the international Stockholm Convention, set up to protect people and the environment from POPs, dangerous chemicals which last a long time, building up in the tissue of living things and are toxic to humans and wildlife.

The Ministry for the Environment will be highlighting the various ways New Zealand is tackling POPs including: The national collection of obsolete agrichemicals in conjunction with regional councils Cleaning up New Zealand’s most contaminated sites – such as the former Fruitgrowers Chemical Company at Mapua near Nelson National environmental standards that ban activities, such as burning tyres or oil in the open, and new hazardous waste incinerators because they release dioxins and other toxics into the air Research on dioxins in New Zealand.

"A feature of the Stockholm Convention is the high level of international cooperation required and underway so that in the years to come everyone will be protected from toxic POPs," Marian Hobbs said. John Whitelaw, Deputy Director UNEP Chemicals will attend and facilitate the session. A former Deputy Director of Australia’s Environmental Protection Agency, he has extensive experience in the international environment scene and multilateral environment agreements.


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