TODAY |

Planned controls on the hazardous gas methyl bromide open to public feedback

The Environmental Protection Authority is seeking public opinion over whether planned controls on the hazardous gas methyl bromide should be loosened.

Methyl bromide is used to fumigate exports and for biosecurity, but can cause health and environmental issues.

From next year tighter controls on its emissions are being put in place but the group representing users says they're unrealistic.

Trish honey is unable to go in her caravan after it was imported from Australia late last year and fumigated using methyl bromide.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it, it was shattering,” she said.

She went to clean it and says she soon felt sick.

“Couldn’t move. Couldn’t walk, splitting headache. nauseous,” she said.

Methyl bromide's toxic to humans, has suspected links to motor neurone disease and can damage the earth's ozone layer.

Its banned in some countries including the European Union but it's also crucial to our multi-billion-dollar forestry industry.

“Because we don’t have any other fumigant that will actually do the job,” Don Hammond of Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction told 1 NEWS.

In 2010, the environmental protection agency ruled that by October next year its emissions have to be recaptured or destroyed.

“We simply don’t have the technology to do that, there will be significant dislocation both in the export log trade but also in the domestic forest industry,” Mr Hammond said.

The group representing methyl bromide users is pushing for a 10-year extension on recapturing emissions from ship hold fumigations and for the recapture threshold to be lowered from what's effectively 100, to 80 per cent.

Don Hammond says they're committed to an alternative to the gas and are trying to get one registered but need more time.

“The 80 per cent is just another piecemeal approach to try and extend the deadline and to make things a bit easier for them to continue using methyl bromide as they do now, we say no,” Aubrey Wilkinson of the Tauranga Moana Fumigation Action Group told 1 NEWS.

The EPA told 1News as the independent regulator it's inappropriate to discuss the group's application.

The Ministry for Primary Industries says it's provided information on the use of methyl bromide and won’t make further comment.

Public submissions close on August 29.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Methyl bromide is used to fumigate exports and for biosecurity but can cause health and environmental issues but tighter controls on its emissions are being put in place from next year. Source: 1 NEWS