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Toxic chemicals plan up for consultation

Toxic chemicals plan up for consultation

Consultation on how to protect people and the environment from persistent organic pollutants starts today

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Consultation on how to protect people and the environment from persistent organic pollutants starts today, Environment Minister David Benson-Pope announced.

"New Zealand has signed up to an international treaty, the Stockholm Convention, which will help us to have a future free from concern about twelve dangerous chemicals. We now invite people to have a say on what we should do to achieve this," Mr Benson-Pope said.

Chemicals such as dieldrin, DDT and dioxins are known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) because they are highly toxic and can last for decades in the environment. They enter the food chain and are retained in human and animal tissue.

"In recent years we have put considerable effort into clearing the country of POPs. The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act now bans the production, the import and use of POPs in New Zealand.

"Government is partnering with local government to collect and dispose of old stocks of these banned agricultural chemicals from farms and rural properties. As of June 2006, we have cleared 225 tonnes of POPs from rural properties," said Mr Benson-Pope.

"Thirdly, the Government's Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund assists regional councils to investigate and help owners clean up contaminated sites that pose a risk to human health and the environment. The clean-up of the former Fruitgrowers Chemical Company site at Mapua is a good example of this.

"Levels of POPs in human tissue have significantly declined in New Zealand over the past decade. This demonstrates that measures such as those being undertaken under the Stockholm Convention do make a difference in protecting human health from POPs," said the Minister.

The Government seeks feedback on a draft National Implementation Plan that sets out measures for meeting our obligations under the Stockholm Convention.

The measures aim to:

- minimise the release of dioxins,

- collect unwanted agrichemicals such as DDT and dieldrin from farms, and

- make contaminated land safe for use.


The draft National Implementation Plan can be viewed on the website of the Ministry for the Environment www.mfe.govt.nz.

The closing date for submissions is 15 August 2006.

ENDS

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