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The Environmental Risk Management Authority has revoked the approvals for the insecticide endosulfan and prohibited its importation, manufacture and use in New Zealand.
The Authority’s decision will come into effect on 16 January 2009, 28 days after publication of a notice in The New Zealand Gazette on Thursday 18 December. The Authority has also specified requirements for safe disposal of the chemical within 12 months.
The decision to revoke the approvals for endosulfan and its formulations followed an exhaustive reassessment process that included gathering information internationally, locally, from industry, and through public submissions and a public hearing.
The chair of the decision-making committee, Helen Atkins, said the Authority considered that the level of adverse effects to the environment, human health, the relationship of Maori to the environment, and to New Zealand’s international relationships outweighed any positive effects associated with the availability of endosulfan in New Zealand.
Ms Atkins said the Authority was grateful to all those who contributed information and their time to the reassessment – especially those who spoke at the hearing, including the registrant and submitters.
The Authority wanted to stop use of endosulfan as quickly as possible. However it recognised the need to allow time for safe disposal in an approved manner such as re-export of the substance, or through an approved toxic waste disposal scheme like the one operated by several regional councils with the support of the Ministry for the Environment.
ERMA New Zealand would make further information on disposal available early in the New Year, and was working with other agencies to ensure it would be widely circulated.
Endosulfan has been used as an insecticide on a variety of crops in New Zealand including vegetables, berry fruit, citrus, and ornamentals. It has also been used for earthworm control on turf at parks, sports grounds, golf courses, bowling clubs, and airports, although this use is not endorsed by suppliers of the product.
Use has declined over the past 10 years.
Endosulfan is acutely toxic to humans at high levels and very toxic to aquatic organisms. It has the potential to cause adverse effects to workers involved in manufacture, transport and use of the substance, to the public, and to the environment.
It is persistent in the environment and has the potential to bio-accumulate. Contamination of remote regions through long-range movement of endosulfan is likely, based on overseas modelling.
At the public hearing, the Authority’s decision-making committee heard of the benefits of endosulfan as an effective and relatively inexpensive insecticide, generally used infrequently as a last resort. These benefits were, in the committee’s view, outweighed by the risks of its continued use.
The Authority had considered imposing stricter controls on some uses, but accepted the valid concerns of several submitters at the public hearing that the proposals would not be practical.
The decision is available at http://www.ermanz.govt.nz/search/registers.html?id=23290