New log export fumigant application approved

Thursday 14 Apr 2022

A decision-making committee of New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved an application for a new gas to fumigate export logs and timber. EDN is a new tool to kill common pests found in wood. It is a potential alternative to methyl bromide, which is now heavily restricted.

EDN is already approved for use in Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, and Russia. The Czech-based manufacturer, Draslovka, applied to the EPA for approval to import the gas into Aotearoa New Zealand.

"The EPA’s role in regulating hazardous substances involves carefully balancing environmental, health, economic, and cultural factors. The application process for EDN has been lengthy due to the complex technical considerations required for the safe use of the fumigant," says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s Hazardous Substances group.

"The benefits of EDN are that it rapidly decomposes after use, it is ozone-friendly, and has reduced risks to human health and the environment compared with methyl bromide." A range of strict rules (known as controls) have been developed for the use of EDN. These include a maximum application rate, and that it is used in specific wind conditions, only under tarpaulins or in shipping containers. EDN is only for use by professionals in commercial settings.

Although the EPA has approved the EDN application, the fumigant cannot be imported or used immediately. Additional WorkSafe rules to protect workers, which are approved in principle, now require ministerial sign-off and gazetting. The EPA decision-making committee will sign the approval to take effect along with the WorkSafe rules.

The EPA decision means the Ministry for Primary Industries can progress negotiations with trading partners on acceptance of EDN, as an option to meet their import biosecurity requirements.

Read more detail on the EDN decision.

Following the announcement on Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Authority approving EDN fumigation of export log stacks, the Forest Owners Association wants a delegation of government ministers to urgently go to India to try to re-open the export log market there. India still stipulates that methyl bromide must be used for log imports from New Zealand. No other fumigants are currently approved by India.

China is by far New Zealand’s biggest log export destination, but other log treatments, such as debarking, have enabled log exports there to continue. The President of the Forest Owners Association, Grant Dodson, says the Indian requirement has meant the collapse of a quarter of a billion dollar a year log export market, as the use of methyl bromide is now highly restricted in New Zealand.

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Source: Environmental Protection Authority, Forest Owners Association

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