Wellington’s toxic gas plume headed to Oriental Parade

posted in: Health, Media Releases

Large volume toxic methyl bromide fumigation continued this morning at Wellington’s CentrePort with the cruise ship Statendam berthed today 140 metres north of the fumigation site.

Two log stacks fumigated under tarpaulins since Sunday evening originally were to have had the fumigant released to the atmosphere in the small hours this morning ahead of the Statendam’s arrival.

“The fumigant gas plume now due to be released at 10-30am today with the light northerly wind is expected to have headed seaward to the south of the cruise ship with dispersal in the direction of Oriental Parade,” said Soil & Health Association spokesperson Steffan Browning. “Fumigation last night would have had a dangerous gas plume headed into town.”

“It is positive to see that for a change warning signs and some limited precaution appears to have been used, however without modelling of air movement at a fumigation site, there is no certainty where the colourless, odourless, tasteless neurotoxin will go, apart from eventually damaging the ozone layer.”

“It is unknown where the gas will dissipate to safe levels and what boat movements or recreationalists are in the area. The gas dispersal does not comply with the Greater Wellington Regional Council Air Plan which disallows fumigation gas to pass the boundary.”

Another cruise ship, the Mercury, is scheduled to berth at the same site or immediately adjacent to the log stacks on Thursday, ahead of the log ship Lodestar Forest’s arrival on Friday morning, however CentrePort has now said that there is to be no more fumigation ahead of the Lodestar Forest’s arrival.

“That is good news for Wellington as generally 8 –10 log stacks would have been fumigated compared with the two that have been fumigated against the Air Plan rules.”

According to the shipping schedule the Lodestar Forest originally to arrive in Wellington from Qingdao appears to have now been diverted to Gisborne and is expected to return there after picking up Wellington’s fumigated logs.

“Soil & Health had called for a meeting with CentrePort, Greater Wellington Regional Council, the fumigators, port workers and other stakeholders ahead of any potential fumigation, and was disappointed that any log fumigation occurred ahead of roundtable discussions.”

“Capture and destruction’ technology that filters out methyl bromide gas from fumigation and other alternatives for phytosanitory fumigation such as heat treatment, are urgently required.”