Latest methyl bromide requirements incoming
22 December 2021
Additional controls around the use of the heavily restricted log fumigant, methyl bromide, take effect on New Year’s Day.
Methyl bromide is a toxic and ozone-depleting substance, which India and China require to be used on logs they receive from New Zealand. It is a biosecurity tool, used internationally to kill pests.
In August, a comprehensive suite of new rules, or controls, were imposed by a Decision-making Committee of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). The decision sets a roadmap to full recapture of methyl bromide, and several controls began immediately, covering ventilation, notification, and reporting.
In general terms, recapture means using technology to remove the methyl bromide gas from the fumigated enclosure, so that after use it cannot be released into the air.
From 1 January 2022, stepped increases start applying to the recapture of methyl bromide from containers and covered log stacks.
“This phased approach allows the EPA to ensure that requirements are being met by industry at each stage,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s Hazardous Substances group.
There will also be larger buffer zones to prevent people from being in the vicinity while the gas is being used. As well, local councils and affected parties, including neighbouring marae and other community facilities, must be notified before fumigation takes place.
“We’ve been pleased to see ports getting ahead of the curve on these regulations. The Port of Tauranga requires recapture technology to be used on all log stack fumigations from 1 January 2022, and Napier Port is stopping methyl bromide use altogether from the same date,” says Dr Hill.
A total ban on methyl bromide fumigation aboard ships takes effect from the start of 2023.
The decision provides a clear and structured pathway for industry to reduce the amount of methyl bromide emitted. The decision recognises the benefits associated with methyl bromide use, while also protecting human health and the environment.
The EPA, WorkSafe, and local authorities all have responsibilities for compliance, monitoring, and enforcement activities relating to methyl bromide.