The Green Party is applauding the decision by the Ports of Auckland to require total recapture of the toxic gas methyl bromide at the port by the end of the year, and says other ports must now follow suit.
Methyl bromide is used to fumigate logs for export. Exposure to the gas, when it’s not safely recaptured, can pose serious risks to people’s health and contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer.
“We’re really pleased by this decision. The Green Party has been campaigning for years alongside workers, community groups and many others to end the exposure of people to this toxic gas," said Green Party pesticide spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“Methyl bromide, if inhaled, can have long-term impacts on the brain, and increase the risk of cancers and neurological issues. We shouldn't be exposing anyone to this stuff.
“Following an Environment Court decision in Tauranga pointing to the non-compliance of the fumigator there, Ports of Auckland is doing the right thing, putting the safety of people and the environment first.
"Other ports need to follow suit. Ports in Napier, Tauranga and Whangarei have very limited recapture going on and that puts people working at the port and living nearby at risk of exposure.
“The Tauranga decision showed that New Zealand is not on track to meet its Montreal Protocol obligation to fully recapture, and reduce the use of, methyl bromide.
“There’s a real need for Government to be more proactive and push the ports to improve recapture. The Government said it would require mandatory recapture by 2020, but that is too late and many ports or log exporters have no plan in place to achieve this,” said Mr Browning.