21 May 2002 – Auckland: Kiwis will finally have the right to know what toxic chemicals have been dumped in their backyards, because of a Budget initiative announced today.
“This excellent initiative to allocate funding for a National Register of Contaminated Sites will mean people get to have a say in the health of their environment,” says Greenpeace toxics campaigner Sue Connor.
“This initiative is an important start. But we must learn from the toxic mistakes of the past and ensure that we protect present and future generations from toxic pollution”.
“Greenpeace also wants companies to provide a national inventory of the toxic substances they use and release into the environment. This inventory must be made public so that communities are informed and have a say about their health and environment11 The USA has a Toxic Release Inventory which is administered by the US Environment Protection Agency.”.
“Communities and the environment are continuously bombarded with chemicals from many sources including industry, pesticide spraying and domestic products. Instead of continuing down this dangerous pathway, we must start reducing the use of hazardous substances with the aim to eliminate them”.
The Budget initiative also allocates money to cleaning up orphaned (abandoned) contaminated sites.
“In the first instance the polluter must be made to pay for the clean up, but where that is not possible the Government must take the lead. This budget initiative is important to ensure that abandoned sites don’t continue to damage the environment and human health”
“There are thousands of contaminated sites around New Zealand, including hundreds of dioxin contaminated sites. Dioxins have been described as some of the most dangerous substances known, and cause cancer, birth defects and many other very serious health problems. They must be cleaned up.”
Greenpeace welcomes the budget initiative. “However this is just the tip of the toxic berg. A lot of hard work to protect our health and environment from hazardous substances still needs to be done,” says Connor.