Press Release – Paul Bruce
CentrePort needs to up its game and move to recapture technology for methyl bromide fumigations now, in light of the exposure of a damning report, Greater Wellington Regional Councillor said today.Recapture of Methyl Bromide fumigant at CentrePort necessary for Health and Safety of Port Workers and protection of Ozone layer
CentrePort needs to up its game and move to recapture technology for methyl bromide fumigations now, in light of the exposure of a damning report, Greater Wellington Regional Councillor said today.
A 2012 Customs Service report shows that 90% of shipping containers sampled had dangerous chemicals including methyl bromide in the air, with 18% above safe levels. Less than 1% of containers displayed correct fumigant signage. Customs Service had failed to release to the public until forced to by an Official Information Act request.
“This Report confirms our concern that local Port workers are being exposed to this toxic chemical.
The lack of recapture also means that residual methyl bromide is still vented into the air eventually destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere, in spite of NZ obligations as a signatory to the Montreal Protocol of 1987, ” said Cr Bruce “I have placed a motion on the order paper of Greater Wellington’s Council meeting this Wednesday 20th March, which requests CentrePort moves to recapture technology this year.
“Port workers and nearby communities do not deserve exposure to toxic fumigant gases. We need to urgently put in place procedures to recapture methyl bromide from shipping containers and log fumigations, rather than releasing it into the air we breathe.
“Recapture of methyl bromide fumigant is used at Port Nelson, following an Environment Court air quality case following the deaths of six port workers there from motor neurone disease.
“The dangerous levels of methyl bromide identified at ports in containers and from log fumigations, is a particular concern. A neurotoxin, methyl bromide gas is colourless, tasteless, and odourless, making it impossible for people to know if they are in contact with it. It also depletes the ozone layer.
“Figures show that methyl bromide use has doubled in the past five years to 469 tonnes in 2011, which means that last year New Zealand destroyed 236 tonnes of ozone.
CentrePort has moved fumigations to holds of ships and within containers, but has yet to move to recapture technology in spite of a ERMA decision in November 2010, which requires recapture within 10 years.
CentrePort has also refused to make public detailed fumigation information and annual information supplied to the EPA.
My motion calls for a faster movement to recapture technology, given the toxic nature of this gas and its impact on the ozone layer. It also asks CentrePort for greater transparency in its dealing with the Public, with reports such as the Custom Services report and the EPA annual fumigation report supplied to the public,” said Cr Paul Bruce.
Motion for full recapture methyl bromide fumigant- 9.30am Wednesday 20th March. Public participation 3 minutes, Advise Greater Wellington Regional Council at 0800 496 734 on Tuesday if you want to speak to motion. Link to agenda item: