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ChCh cleans up while Auckland Airport keeps dioxin

ChCh cleans up while Auckland Airport keeps dioxin dinosaur

Following an open letter in the Christchurch Press and hundreds of emails from Greenpeace supporters, Nuplex Medismart yesterday issued a press statement announcing their intention to close their incinerator at Christchurch airport and move to steam sterilisation.

Despite much more extensive pressure from local residents and shareholders, Auckland International Airport Ltd (AIAL) refuses to upgrade their incinerator to clean technology.

“It is astounding that a company as profitable as AIAL refuses to switch their toxic incinerator to steam sterilisation. AIAL are dismissing the widespread concern of the local community and their shareholders and the progressive commitments of other incinerator companies across the country,” said Carmen Gravatt, Greenpeace campaigner.

“Auckland International Airport continue to role out excuses and drag their heels on incineration.”

The Auckland Airport incinerator is the largest incinerator in the country and potentially the nation’s largest single dioxin source(1). Incineration releases dioxins, which cause cancer, diabetes and birth defects and interrupt hormone and immune systems.

Other major incinerators in Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington have already changed to steam sterilisation.

The New Zealand Government has signed the Stockholm Convention, which aims to eliminate dioxins, and lists incineration as a key source of dioxins. Yet despite this they are allowing AIAL to continue polluting the Auckland community with a significant and totally unnecessary source of dioxins. The Government must honour the Stockholm Convention and ban incineration in New Zealand.

“It is unacceptable that both AIAL, a company that prides itself on being a good corporate citizen and the New Zealand Government, which constantly promotes our clean green image, both continue to back incineration.”

Notes: * Inadequate monitoring and underestimates of levels in ash and scrubber residues suggest that AIAL could be the largest single dioxin source in New Zealand.

Over the last year Greenpeace and South Auckland communities have been campaigning for AIAL to close down its incinerator and change to steam sterilisation.

Greenpeace presented the argument for a clean alternative through a shareholder resolution at AIAL’s Annual General Meeting in November 2002. While it did not formally pass there was significant support for the spirit of the resolution.

AIAL agreed to fulfil the demand of the Manukau City Council, its third largest shareholder, that the company urgently investigate alternative ways of treating its waste. However at this stage they have failed to make real change.

March 31 2003 is the deadline for the abatement notice AIAL have been served by the Auckland Regional Council. This means that they are required to prove that the incinerator is now under the dioxin standard, which it has been breaching for over two years. However there is no safe level of dioxins and Greenpeace will continue to oppose any level of dioxin emissions.

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