The Green Party is protesting against the routine use of the highly toxic and potent ozone destroying gas, Methyl Bromide, in close proximity to a workers' break room and nearby apartments and office buildings at the Wellington Port.
The Coalition against the Use of Methyl Bromide is holding a protest at 12 o’clock today on the footpath outside the Bluebridge entrance, to protest its ongoing use in ports around New Zealand.
"Methyl Bromide is a highly toxic gas, especially to the lungs and nervous system. Chronic exposure to it through the air has been associated with a range of neurological effects. Exposure to high quantities of the gas can be fatal," Green Party Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley said.
"Workers inform us that methyl bromide is being used to fumigate logs and other products up to 10 to 12 times on any given day. While the fumigation takes place in containers, the gas is released into the atmosphere after each treatment, where it can drift considerable distances, depending on the wind direction and strength," Ms Kedgley said.
"The process is primitive and the controls inadequate.
"Methyl bromide is pumped into containers. After a about 24 hours the containers are opened up, letting the toxic gas escape into the surrounding environment.
"The fumigation centre on the wharf is located next to where the workers load and offload, and near to a cool store and break room for workers.
"Because it has no odour or warning agent, workers would not know when they were being exposed to the gas. This is completely unacceptable and is putting the health and safety of workers at risk on a regular basis.
Ms Kedgley said as the gas was heavy, it could drift for long distances, way beyond the boundaries of the port, to neighbouring office buildings and apartment blocks which are located within 500 metres of the fumigation centre — namely the Rugby Union building, Statistics NZ, BNZ building, a new apartment building, the stadium, the railway station and a Victoria University campus.
"Everybody working and living near to the fumigation area is at risk.
"It is quite simply irresponsible for the port and the Wellington Regional Council to allow fumigation to take place so near the heart of our city.
"There is no excuse for fumigating in this primitive way, releasing the gas directly into the atmosphere, when there is recapture technology available.
"The Green Party is calling on the Regional Council, as part owner of the Port, to require the use of recapture technology if it continues to use methyl bromide.
“Nelson has installed such technology. It is time for Wellington to follow suit,' said Ms Kedgley
Ms Kedgley said there has been a 500 percent increase in the use of methyl bromide over the past decade, even though as a signatory to the Montreal convention, New Zealand has pledged to reduce the use of methyl bromide and use recapture technology wherever possible.
Sue Kedgley will be speaking at the Coalition Against the use of Methyl Bromide’s protest action in Wellington today
Date: Monday April 26
Location: The footpath outside of the Bluebridge entrance
(Waterloo quay, over the road from the railway station) Map - http://bit.ly/9MqJ2R