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Logs From Nelson To Be Fumigated in Picton

Media Release
Attention: Environment, Health, Forestry, Local Body, Government, Shipping Reporters

Soil & Health Association of New Zealand
(Est. 1941)

Publishers of ORGANIC NZ

11 May 2009
Logs From Methyl Bromide Free Nelson To Be Fumigated In Picton May 19

Fumigation company Genera can no longer release large volumes of the highly toxic methyl bromide gas in Nelson, so log exporter Zindia intends shipping logs from there for fumigation in Picton, exploiting the local Marlborough District Council’s conflict of interest and ineffective air plans, according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ.

The 28,600 DWT bulk carrier Pos Brave has been scheduled to load logs in Nelson for fumigation in Picton in about a weeks time.

“Why should Picton be at risk for Zindia and Genera’s dirty activity when Nelson now has protection? The deaths of several Port Nelson workers from motor neurone disease, linked to methyl bromide fumigation, pre-empted safety improvements there, yet the same fumigators want to carry on the same old dangerous activities with Nelson logs in the neighbouring community,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.

Following extensive Environment Court hearings, large scale release of the neurotoxic and ozone destroying methyl bromide gas in Nelson is prevented, due to new community safety and environmental protection focused Port Nelson air quality plans. The Port Nelson fumigation Code of Practice also improved significantly following the hearings.

“Zindia seems blinkered to environmental and community safety and has complained about the economic cost to Marlborough if it could not fumigate Marlborough logs at local Picton’s Shakespeare Bay. However it now wants to import and fumigate a ship full of Nelson logs and release the toxic gas from them into the atmosphere near Picton.”

“I think the patience of Picton people will be close to a limit with such blatant abuse of the tolerance shown to date. Marlborough District Council and Port Marlborough need to stop this fumigation from occurring and modelled on Nelson, set an effective air plan in place immediately.”

“The monitoring regime touted by Port Marlborough and the Marlborough District Council as being 5 times more rigid than elsewhere in New Zealand during the last log fumigation event is meaningless and a cruel twist to what must happen in Port Nelson.”

“Port Nelson fumigation must only be released following the use of recapture technology which has collected the vast majority of the gas into carbon filters, with the small allowable remnant of gas being very heavily diluted and vented at predetermined rates and set times.”

“Due to cost, Zindia does not want to put its logs through such a process in Nelson, although a related company does there with sawn timber. Picton and the Marlborough District Council are seen as the cheap way out. Marlborough District Council with its demand on Port Marlborough to produce millions of dollars in dividends, is risking the health of its own community and aggravating climate change, by not preventing the fumigation business.”

“Marlborough District Council has a conflict of interest and its executive must be calling the shots as when they were standing for council in 2007, there was almost complete opposition to methyl bromide fumigation from the mayor and councillors.”

“Organisations such as Soil & Health and Guardians of the Sounds have suggested that to prevent the Picton “toxic town” label, the Marlborough District Council, its subsidiary Port Marlborough, log exporter Zindia, the forestry industry and fumigator Genera, need to build a fumigant gas recapture facility that can allow fumigation but protects the community and environment,” said Mr Browning.

“In the interim as in Nelson, whether from a ships hold or from tarpaulins in the open, there must be no more large scale release of toxic and ozone destroying gases.”

Release of methyl bromide gas from under tarpaulins in the open has also been discontinued in Nelson and during the last methyl bromide fumigation in Picton, Genera lost any control of the gases from at least one covered log stack when its cover came free. Other tarpaulins were intentionally removed very quickly allowing toxic gas to be released in high concentrations.

“Soil & Health has campaigned against methyl bromide fumigation for many years and now vindicated by the decisions of the European Parliament which is to ban methyl bromide use, and the findings of the Environment Court in Nelson, Soil & Health will continue to campaign against methyl bromide use and for a clean green Aotearoa New Zealand. Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020.”


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