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Work continues to seek and destroy pollutants

22 December 2006

Work continues to seek and destroy organic pollutants

Destroying the remains of banned pesticides on farms, continuing the clean-up of contaminated sites, and completing the destruction of stockpiled hazardous waste are among the actions government has committed to under the Stockholm Convention, Environment Minister David Benson-Pope said today.

Mr Benson-Pope said the National Implementation Plan under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), released by government today, set out a plan of action for completing New Zealand's work under the Convention, which we signed in 2001.

Mr Benson-Pope said that eliminating the production and release of POPs like DDT and dioxins was an international concern. "POPs are toxic, they are not environmentally degradable, and they can enter the foodchain and spread across the globe by air or water," he said.

"Even low levels of exposure can pose a threat to human health and the environment."

The Plan gave a good overview of the work that's been achieved, he said. "Ten years ago, New Zealand stopped using leaded petrol, and stopped manufacturing 245T.

"Today, we've collected and destroyed almost 90 per cent of the significant stockpiles of the hazardous waste PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) from places like schools and hospitals, and we've collected and destroyed over 290 tonnes of banned pesticides from farms.

"Legislation includes the HSNO Act, which bans the manufacture, import, and use of all POPs; and the new environmental air quality standards, which ban incineration of materials that can release POPs," he said.

"The work ahead is about completing the final stages of clean-up, discovery and elimination, continuing to research and monitor the effects of exposure to POPs in the past, further develop policy for managing contaminated land, and work with other countries to make sure the Convention is effective internationally," he said.

"The health of New Zealanders and their environment depends on a robust process to eliminate and destroy POPs. The Plan shows what this process is."

ENDS

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