New Zealand's use of the highly toxic and potent ozone depleting fumigant methyl bromide has increased by 500% over the past decade, despite a solemn pledge to reduce our use of this dangerous fumigant, the Green Party said today.
"Europe has banned the use of this dangerous fumigant, and it’s time we followed suit," Green Party Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.
The Green party is a member of the Coalition Against the use of Methyl Bromide which is being launched today to campaign for an immediate halt to the use of Methyl Bromide in New Zealand ports.
Methyl Bromide is a highly toxic gas, especially to the lungs and nervous system. It can be fatal, and chronic exposure to it through the air has been associated with a range of neurological effects. Exposure to high quantities of the gas can be fatal.
"The government is breaching our commitments under the Montreal Protocol to reduce our use of this dangerous fumigant. They are allowing more and more of the gas to be used at the nation's ports.
“This puts more workers, the public and the environment at serious risk,” Ms Kedgley said.
The Montreal Protocol requires Parties to “refrain from use of methyl bromide and to use non-ozone-depleting technologies wherever possible. Where methyl bromide is used, Parties are urged to minimise emissions and use of methyl bromide through containment and recovery and recycling methodologies to the extent possible”
In 2001 New Zealand used 51 tonnes in 2001, 170 tonnes in 2006; 289 tonnes in 2008 .
“The controls around the release of the gas at ports were sloppy and grossly inadequate, and were putting the health of hundreds of workers and nearby residents at risk on a daily basis,” said Ms Kedgley
“By releasing this potent ozone depleting gas directly into the atmosphere, we are effectively using the atmosphere as an open sewer.
"Methyl Bromide should not be released directly into the atmosphere, where it destroys the ozone layer. There is absolutely no excuse for this when recapture technology available. The port of Nelson is using this technology and every other port should be required to use it.
Sue Kedgley will be speaking at the Coalition Against the use of Methyl Bromide’s protest action in Piction, Wellington and Tauranga over the next week.