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Bunkle warns of uncontrolled dioxin threat

Bunkle warns of uncontrolled dioxin threat

Phillida Bunkle MP Thu Sep 16 1999

Phillida Bunkle
MPThe health of the public and the environment are under serious threat from high dioxin emissions but there is no regulatory body to control it, says Alliance health and environment Spokesperson Phillida Bunkle.

She is launching a petition among Wellington residents who want a Miramar medical incinerator shut down until emissions can be reduced to within international guidelines.

Dioxin emissions from the incinerator are up to 300 times higher than the accepted international guidelines.

Dioxins are linked to cancer, hormonal disruption and foetal abnormalities. They were recently the cause of a massive food scare in Belgium. Dioxins become concentrated in body fats, break down extremely slowly and become imbedded in the food chain.

'Dioxin emissions from the Miramar facility are adding to what is already a serious and irreversible situation,' she said.

According to the Ministry for the Environment, New Zealand has higher dioxin levels in urban air than Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Australia, the Netherlands and even Germany.

'New Zealand has 30 such medical waste incinerators but we don't have one single person charged with ensuring that chemicals emitted aren't risking public or environmental health. This is the latest evidence that the government has failed to produce the agency required to implement its much trumpeted Hazardous Substances and Organisms legislation,' Phillida Bunkle said.

The Minister for the Environment, Simon Upton has stated that even a low concentration of emission contribute in the long term to significant risks.

'The Ministry for the Environment has failed to come up with guidelines on emission controls and the agency to monitor it. An Alliance government will make this a priority. We want a pro-active regulatory agency which can protect our community and our environment,' Phillida Bunkle said.

'I am deeply concerned by the chemical contamination in Wellington. In years to come this will translate into more and more tragic but avoidable cancers. I call upon ERMA to urgently review the incinerator. If emissions cannot be controlled then the facility should be shut down.

'New Zealand's well being and future relies upon our clean green image for both trade and tourism. Our current dioxin levels are bad enough, this continuing contamination is placing our children's future in peril.'

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