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Notice Outlines Safe Storage for POPs

Joint Media Release
ERMA New Zealand, MfE, Federated Farmers

23 December 2004

Notice Outlines Safe Storage for POPs

New laws are being introduced to manage the disposal of certain outdated agrichemicals that contain persistent organic pollutants or POPs.

Today ERMA New Zealand published a notice in the New Zealand Gazette that provides for initial steps in the implementation of the Stockholm Convention in New Zealand. The notice, which is a form of regulation, specifies how to store these chemicals safely and securely so that land owners can legally store old stocks of POPs until they can arrange for their safe disposal.

POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods of time, and can become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife.

Bas Walker, Chief Executive of ERMA New Zealand, said that POPs have been deregistered as pesticides and off the market for over 15 years, but many farmers may still have some of them stored in their sheds.

The Gazette notice specifies that POPs held by farmers must be stored in suitable containers and kept in places which are both secure and suitable and sited so that the risk of contamination is minimised. It also outlines the standards and controls that collectors of POPs must comply with.

ERMA New Zealand, the Ministry for the Environment, Federated Farmers and regional councils have been working together to determine how the safe disposal of these hazardous substances can be managed.

A number of regional councils, in partnership with the Ministry for the Environment, have established a free collection scheme to help rural property owners safely dispose of unwanted chemicals and hazardous wastes, including POPs. Over the coming months more regional councils will be joining the scheme. For further information please visit www.mfe.govt.nz.

Ministry for the Environment Sustainable Industry Group Manger, Bill Bayfield, said that farmers were making good use of the agrichemical collections. “This year alone more than 75 tonnes of obsolete agrichemicals have been picked up and taken away for safe disposal.”

Federated Farmers of New Zealand is keen to ensure that all farmers will be given the opportunity to have these chemicals collected and disposed of safely, said National Board member Hugh Ritchie.

"We urge farmers to take the opportunity to get rid of these chemicals for their own safety, and in the interests of a safer workplace and environment," Mr Ritchie said.

Earlier this year, New Zealand signed The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which requires all parties to commit themselves to a long-term international effort to reduce or eliminate health and environmental risks from chemicals specified in the convention. The organochlorine (chlorine-containing) chemicals listed as POPs under the convention include aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin.

To find out if a collection scheme is up and running in your area contact your regional council. For a copy of the gazette notice please go to http://www.ermanz.govt.nz/hs/gn174.pdf or call ERMA New Zealand’s Public Awareness Group on 04 918 4826.

ENDS

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