Consultation starts methyl bromide replacement

 
A significant milestone has been reached in replacing methyl bromide as the standard fumigant for New Zealand’s export logs and timber. The Environmental Protection Authority has just released application details for approval of ethanedinitrile (EDN) as a fumigant for log and timber exports.

The forest industry anticipates EDN could replace methyl bromide fumigation which is used on log exports to China and India. Methyl bromide is an ozone depleting chemical. Regulations due to come into effect in 2020 will make it considerably more difficult and expensive to use.

The Chair of Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction (STIMBR) Don Hammond, says approval by the EPA is the critical first step into its use in New Zealand to ensure log exports are free of pests the importing countries don’t want.

“Over the past seven years STIMBR and our co-funding partners, including the New Zealand government, have invested more than NZ$22 million in research on alternatives to methyl bromide, as well as ways to reduce the amounts that need to be used, along with recapture and destruction technologies,” Don Hammond says.

He says an extensive review of scientific literature commissioned by STIMBR in 2014 found only one promising fumigant alternative to methyl bromide.

“Plant and Food Research confirmed EDN is an effective phytosanitary treatment for insects which might be found on our logs. There are clear advantages of EDN over methyl bromide. EDN has no effect on the ozone layer. It is not a greenhouse gas. It does not bioaccumulate because it breaks down rapidly in the environment without leaving harmful residues in the soil or in water,” Don Hammond says.

EDN is currently manufactured by Draslovka a family-owned company based in the Czech Republic. Over the past three years Don Hammond says Draslovka has made significant investment to develop EDN into a commercially viable and environmentally sustainable alternative to methyl bromide for use globally as a soil and commodity treatment.

The President of the Forest Owners Association, Peter Clark, says while EPA approval is a vital first step that doesn’t mean importing countries will automatically accept its use.

“We are confident that, with the huge wealth of positive data on EDN, that EPA will give it approval. The process of assuring other countries that EDN is both effective and safe to use, must also be undertaken as a government priority.”

“Though the value of log exports is less than half of the value of our total timber exports, 71 percent of our logs go to China, and presently methyl bromide treatment is an important component of that trade,” Peter Clark says. “Further, all logs going to India require methyl bromide treatment. Resolving this issue is a clear priority for our industry.”

More information can be found on:

1. The EPA’s website.

2. the STIMBR website which includes FAQs for EDN and methyl bromide.

Source: Forest Owners Association, Photo: STIMBR

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