Ports of Auckland’s decision to no longer release the toxic fumigant methyl bromide into the atmosphere is a win for their workers and for the environment, says Labour’s Spokesperson for Biosecurity Damien O’Connor.
“The intention to move to a full ‘recapture’ system by the end of the year, instead of the current practice of simply venting the gas into the atmosphere, shows leadership and responsibility by Ports management.
“Currently, workers and people living or working near a port using methyl bromide are potentially at risk from breathing the colourless and odourless gas. I’m reminded of the deaths of up to six people from motor neurone disease in Nelson between 2002 and 2005. While the direct link to methyl bromide was inconclusive, it should never have been possible that people were harmed from its use as a fumigant.
“The Maritime Union is justly celebrating this announcement, after more than ten years of campaigning with other groups to improve safety around the use of this dangerous chemical.
“Methyl bromide is also ozone-depleting. We’re becoming more and more conscious of the effects of industry on the environment, and we still have work to do in many areas. Any company that improves its own practice deserves credit.
“Ports of Auckland’s decision will surely put pressure on the remaining ports around New Zealand which still release methyl bromide,” says Damien O’Connor.