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Expanding ozone hole highlights folly of Methyl Bromide

6 April 2011

Expanding ozone hole highlights folly of Methyl Bromide use

News that the hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic has increased to unprecedented levels highlights the urgent need for New Zealand to phase out our use of the highly potent ozone depleting fumigant Methyl Bromide, said the Green Party today.

“The most recently available figures show that in 2009, New Zealand used 271 tonnes of Methyl Bromide and destroyed around 136 tonnes of ozone. This is scandalous,” said Green Party toxics spokesperson Sue Kedgley.

New Zealand signed the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which commits us to, “refrain from the use of methyl bromide and to use non ozone depleting technologies wherever possible,” yet figures show that New Zealand’s Methyl Bromide use has steadily increased since then.

“Incredibly, our use of Methyl Bromide has increased by 500% in the past decade, said Ms Kedgley.

“It is short sighted and foolhardy for NZ to continue to use a substance that destroys the ozone layer—the shield that protects life on earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays.

The World Meteorological Organization reported today that the Arctic region suffered an ozone column loss of about 40 per cent from December to March, due in part to the continuing presence of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere.

“Ozone depleting substances like Methyl Bromide stay in the atmosphere for decades, and although New Zealand’s use of it does not contribute to depletion of ozone over the arctic, the northern hemisphere depletion serves as a warning that if we don’t curb our use, we will have a similar problem above the Antarctic, said Ms Kedgley.

“New Zealand must phase out our use of Methyl Bromide within the next five years, and require recapture technology to be used within one year.

“There is absolutely no excuse for allowing this highly toxic and ozone depleting gas to be released directly into the atmosphere when effective recapture technology exists.
“Europe has already banned its use, and New Zealand should follow suit, instead of dragging our feet and allowing its continued use for a further ten years.”

In November, 2010, New Zealand’s Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) decided to allow the continued use of Methyl Bromide, without any requirements to use recapture technology.

“The news that the hole in the ozone is growing rapidly shows that ERMA’s policy of allowing this ozone depleting fumigant to be released directly into the atmosphere for a further ten years is highly irresponsible,” said Ms Kedgley.

ENDS

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