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Hazardous fumigation must be halted - Greens

6 February 2008

Hazardous fumigation must be halted - Greens

The Green Party is calling for an immediate halt to Methyl Bromide fumigation at Wellington's port, following revelations today that this potentially hazardous activity is taking place right next to Westpac stadium, Victoria University's campus at the railway station, and visiting cruise ships.

"I am shocked that the Port of Wellington, which is half owned by the Greater Wellington regional council, would allow this highly toxic gas to be released into the atmosphere next to a stadium, a university and retail outlets. The New Zealand Rugby Union is also next door," Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"It is utterly irresponsible, and I doubt very much there is any monitoring of where this toxic gas travels to.

"There is ample evidence of how toxic this gas is, and the potentially serious effects it can have on human health, and the port has chosen to allow it to be used in a way that could put hundreds of people at risk.

"I am also disturbed by the secrecy surrounding the use of Methyl Bromide at the Port," Ms Kedgley says.

"For the past year I have been trying to find out where and when Methyl Bromide fumigation is taking place in Wellington, but both the Port of Wellington and the regional council have refused to give me this information.

"Surely Wellingtonians, and their representatives in Parliament, have a right to know when a toxic gas is being released into the environment, especially if they happen to live or work right next to the fumigation site?"

There is technology available which could be used to recapture the gas, and ensure it isn't released directly into the atmosphere, she says.

"Unless the fumigation company is prepared to invest in this recapture technology, all fumigation should cease.

"It is outrageous that fumigation of logs with a highly toxic and ozone depleting gas would be a 'permitted activity' under the Resource Management Act, and not require a resource consent. If someone wants to change their veranda, they have to get consent, yet ports all around New Zealand can release tonnes of Methyl Bromide into the atmosphere, putting humans and the environment at risk, without requiring any consent, or even having to inform people that this is taking place.

"This is scandalous. The controls around Methyl Bromide must be reviewed and its direct release into the atmosphere stopped."

ENDS

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