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Wellington Port Company challenged over fumigation

25 February 2008

Wellington Port Company challenged over fumigation

With 19 knot winds buffeting Wellington today, the Wellington Port Company should not have allowed fumigation with the highly toxic and ozone depleting gas methyl bromide to take place on the city's waterfront, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says.

Greater Wellington Regional Council, which owns the Port, disclosed that log fumigation using methyl bromide was to begin late yesterday in preparation for arrival of log carrier Lodestar Forest.

"Allowing fumigation to take place in 19-knot winds, means it's inevitable that the gas will disperse widely, beyond the boundaries of the port. If this is the case then the fumigant could drift to highly populated areas such as the stadium, the University, the Railway station and other nearby areas."

This morning Ms Kedgley appealed to Wellington Regional Councillors, at their full Council meeting, to put an immediate halt to the use of the fumigant at Wellington's waterfront, until such time as facilities to recapture and destroy the gas have been put in place.

"By permitting open air fumigation to take place at the waterfront, and the gas to be directly released into the atmosphere, I believe the Council is breaching its own rules," Ms Kedgley says.

"It is virtually impossible to contain the gas, when used in this primitive way, inside the boundaries of the Port of Wellington. Air modelling in Nelson has demonstrated that the fumigant can drift more than a kilometre once it is released into the atmosphere," she says.

The Council had made a commitment, in its own Regional Air Quality Management Plan, to 'promote the recovery, re-use, and recycling of ozone depleting substances and the use of alternative technologies'.

"Having made this commitment, why is the Council not requiring recovery technology to be used on Wellington's waterfront? Why are they turning a blind eye and allowing one of the most ozone depleting substances humans have ever invented to be dispersed directly into the air, effectively using the atmosphere as an open sewer?"

"We have to put the health and safety of people, and our atmosphere, ahead of the short term profits of fumigation companies, and require this technology to be put in place immediately."

ENDS

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