ECOlink banner
ECO logo
Line Graphics
• MARCH 1999


Editor: Stephen Blyth.
ECO, PO Box 11057, Wellington. 
Phone/fax (04) 385 7545. 
2nd floor, 126 Vivian Street Wellington. 
ISSN 1174-0671


NFA road blockade..............................
RMA submissions analysed................
Dodgy fisheries budget.......................
Toothfish trampled...............................
GMO foods debacle .............................
Biodiversity strategy released...........
Climate change..................................8-9 
Nigeria emergency.............................10
(Find links to all pages at bottom of page)

New Zealand's deadly legacy
THE GOVERNMENT is about to make its most important decision on the future of toxic waste policy in years. Commerce Minister Max Bradford is set to decide whether or not to issue an export permit allowing six regional and district councils to export 110 tonnes of highly toxic organochlorine pesticides for incineration overseas. 
  The outcome will have major implications for cleaning up toxic waste and contaminated sites as well as New Zealand's clean green export image overseas. 
  The six councils want to export unwanted waste pesticides for incineration in Europe, probably in the Netherlands. Instead of disposal by incineration, which creates toxic dioxin emissions and contaminated ash, ECO argues that councils should wait until next year when safe alternative treatment and disposal technologies are expected to be available in New Zealand. 
  If Max Bradford issues an export permit it will be a slap in the face for the environment. Legal advice supplied to 
Wood Preservative Cartoon
Greenpeace shows that it would also be a breach of the Basel Convention on Hazardous Waste which obliges countries to set up safe treatment technologies to deal with their own wastes within their own borders and minimise transboundary movement of such wastes. 
  "Exporting banned toxic pesticides for incineration overseas is the shortsighted, dirty option", says ECO executive member Michael Szabo. "How can New Zealand claim to be a clean green exporter if it exports its toxic waste problems overseas?" 
  Exporting the wastes for incineration would undermine efforts to set up safe disposal technologies in New Zealand because it would reduce their economic viability. An Australian company, ADI, and a New Zealand company, United Environmental Ltd, want to set up facilities which are capable of treating both toxic wastes and the thousands of contaminated sites around the country.
  In 1996 the Ministry for the Environment and council officials involved in this issue assured ECO that they would opt for ADI's system or a similar process to treat these pesticides. 
  The ADI and United Environmental systems are the front-runner technologies for cleaning up toxic wastes such as these pesticides along with a former pesticide formulation site near Mapua which is the most contaminated site in the country. Since 1996 the government has dragged its feet and has still not resolved the Mapua issue or liability for orphan sites. 
  For the sake of avoiding the short-term costs of storage, the consortium has made up its mind and opted for incineration. As an interim solution ECO wants them to apply for the Ministry for the Environment's sustainable management fund for extra money to pay for storage instead. 
  The danger is that the government will fudge over Mapua and issue an export permit. Then New Zealand is much less likely to develop a sound system for toxic waste which is desperately needed because most of New Zealand's annual 8.5 million tonnes of hazardous waste is currently discharged  to rivers and coastal waters, or poorly managed leaky landfills. 
  The Tasman District Council have said they are prepared to contribute several million dollars to a clean up at Mapua. But the price tag is likely to be more like $15 million. ECO is calling on the government to set up and use a clean up fund based on a levy raised from sales of toxic chemicals. This levy would also act as an incentive to reduce the use of toxic chemicals. 
  If the government agrees to provide funding, a clean up unit could be set up near Mapua and the site excavated and treated. This or other units could then move around the country to clean up the many other contaminated sites such as the Waipa sawmill and Southland's dieldrin dumps. 
  The 110 tonnes of unwanted pesticides is only the tip of the iceberg. Informed estimates predict that there is still over a thousand tonnes of organochlorine pesticides, PCBs and related wastes still to be collected or treated, as well as thousands of tonnes of contaminated material from pulp mill sludge dumps and timber treatment sites which also requires treatment. The number of sites could run to ten thousand, according to a 1992 report prepared for Ministry for the Environment. 
  If the pesticides go overseas for incineration and the government refuses to help fund the Mapua clean up then no safe disposal technology is likely to be established here. That way New Zealand's environment - and our health - will end up paying the cost.
•Write to Prime Minister Jenny Shipley urging the government not to issue an export permit and to fund a clean up of Mapua. Write to Jenny Shipley, Parliament Buildings, Wellington (no stamp required), fax 04 473 7045, email:
•Write or fax your nearest regional council (Bay of Plenty, Auckland, Waikato, Southland or Hawkes Bay or Tasman District Council) urging them not to export unwanted pesticides for incineration. 
•For more information contact Michael Szabo at Greenpeace: ph 09 630 6317 or fax (09) 630 7121.


ECO HomeECO Home Top of PageTop of page
Next PageNext Page