EPA approves methyl bromide reassessment bid
18 April 2018
An application to decide whether grounds exist for a reassessment of the controversial timber and log fumigant methyl bromide has been approved.
The approval was made by an Environmental Protection Authority decision-making committee.
Methyl Bromide, an extremely toxic and ozone-depleting substance, is used to disinfect logs and timber products destined for export as part of quarantine and pre-shipment importing requirements.
“The application was made by industry group Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction Inc [STIMBR] in part because New Zealand’s use of the fumigant has increased from over 400 tonnes a year in 2010 to more than 600 tonnes in 2016,” says Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter, General Manager of the EPA’s Hazardous Substances Group.
“A significant change in quantity imported and manufactured is one of the criteria under which an applicant can apply for grounds for reassessment under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.
“During that time extensive industry research has also been undertaken and this new information may have an impact on the current controls, or rules, around its use if a reassessment is carried out,” adds Dr Thomson-Carter.
Methyl Bromide is controlled under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act and Ozone Layer Protection Regulations. Its use for anything other than quarantine or pre-shipment purposes was phased out in 2005.
Following its 2010 reassessment, the EPA ruled that users would need to ensure recapture technology was in place by 2020 to collect and store the used gas, preventing its spread into the atmosphere.
In granting the approval, the Decision-making Committee said it had not reviewed the current controls, including recapture, but that these should be considered if any follow-up application is made to begin the reassessment process.
The EPA and WorkSafe continue to work with industry on the use of methyl bromide and controls currently in place.