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“Legal” dioxin levels at Auckland Airport

“Legal” dioxin levels at Auckland Airport still poisoning community

Auckland, Tuesday 29 April 2003 – Auckland airport’s “legal” levels of dioxin will not protect the community from these poisonous chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and endometriosis, Greenpeace said today, as it shut down the facility.

This morning Greenpeace blocked trucks of quarantine and medical waste from entering the incinerator at Auckland International Airport (AIAL). Three activists locked on to barrels bolted into the ground to prevent trucks entering the site. Two more activists hung a banner on the building reading “Stop Poisoning us. Stop Incineration”. Greenpeace is demanding the facility be replaced and that the New Zealand Government ban incineration nationally.

Dioxins are among the most poisonous substances known and there is no proven safe level of emissions. They are a by-product of the incineration process and are not created by other waste disposal methods, such as steam sterilisation.

“The Auckland Airport incinerator is the largest incinerator in the country and potentially the nation’s largest single dioxin source,” said Greenpeace toxics campaigner Carmen Gravatt. “Other major incinerators in the country have switched to steam sterilisation and Auckland must follow suit.”

Today’s action highlights the on-going concern of local residents, airport shareholders and the wider community that the company is not doing enough, fast enough to make the switch to clean technology.

“It is astounding that a company as profitable as AIAL refuses to switch its 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 Gravatt.

The New Zealand Government has signed the international Stockholm Convention, which aims to eliminate dioxins, and lists incineration as a key source of dioxins.

“Despite signing this convention, the Government allows 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,” said Gravatt.

“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.”

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