Forestry industry slammed over methyl bromide

Friday 14 Dec 2018

The New Zealand Government has lobbed a bomb at the forestry industry, slamming a lack of progress in finding ways to reduce emissions of the ozone-depleting pesticide methyl bromide. In a letter to industry groups, Environment Minister David Parker says he and his colleagues are "very concerned" that it appears a deadline to have all methyl bromide emissions recaptured by October, 2020 will be missed.

While there had been collaborative efforts through the industry group Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction (Stimbr), he said, "it appears that to date most companies have not been willing to invest sufficiently in effective recapture technology or infrastructure". He called for a meeting of stakeholders early in the new year to discuss solutions.

The industry has hit back, saying in a response letter that the deadline was "self-imposed" by government and could lead to "significant economic disruption". Forest owners have also fired a broadside at the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), accusing it of delays in ruling on an application to register a chemical it hopes will be a replacement for methyl bromide.

In his letter to Stimbr chair Don Hammond and other industry groups, Parker said under the Montreal Protocol aimed at protecting the ozone layer, New Zealand had an obligation to minimise methyl bromide emissions as much as possible through containment and recapture technologies.

A re-assessment of the pesticide by the EPA in 2010 resulted in a new control requiring all fumigations to use recapture technology within 10 years. "The recapture obligation effectively requires 99.9 per cent of methyl bromide used to be recaptured. However, nowhere near this level of recapture is currently being achieved, and nor is it likely to be by 2020," Parker wrote.

"We want to remind you that the 2020 deadline is getting ever closer. Any operator non-compliant after the deadline will be unable to operate after this date." More >>

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