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Commitment to continuing agri chemical clean-up

Hon David Benson-Pope, MP
Minister for the Environment
Member of Parliament for Dunedin South

24 March 2006 Media Statement

Minister commits to continuing clean-up of unwanted agri chemicals

The Government will fund for another three years the clean-up of unwanted and dangerous agricultural chemicals, Environment Minister David Benson-Pope announced today.

The Ministry for the Environment and 13 regional councils have been working together since 2003 to collect agricultural chemicals, mainly from rural properties. New Zealand will have safely disposed of 225 tonnes of old, unwanted and potentially dangerous agricultural chemicals by June.

“The material we have removed is really the nasty stuff that councils do not collect through their regular waste disposal facilities," said Mr Benson-Pope while in Blenheim this morning viewing first-hand the collection of unwanted agri-chemicals.

"Most of these chemicals are ‘persistent organic pollutants’ – so named because they do not break down in the environment. They include pesticides like DDT, dieldrin, PCBs and dioxins.

"These were banned in New Zealand some time ago but there is still some left, sitting mainly in sheds and garages. The Ministry for the Environment estimates that 175 tonnes of this material still remains to be collected after June of this year. It won’t go away if we don’t clean it up,” said Mr Benson-Pope.

To date, the Ministry for the Environment has contributed $2.5 million through its Sustainable Management Fund to finance the clean-up project.

“We will keep working with local government to clean-up New Zealand. The Ministry for the Environment will fund this project for another three years,” Mr Benson-Pope confirmed.

New Zealand agreed with other countries in 2004 to a permanent ban on persistent organic pollutants, by signing the international Stockholm Convention. These pollutants are now banned from importation, production and use in this country.

The Ministry for the Environment has published a report that estimates the amounts of old and unwanted agricultural chemicals left in each region. This report is available on the Ministry for the Environment website at www.mfe.govt.nz


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