6 Nov 2009

ERMA hasn't set date to phase out log fumigant

8:55 pm on 6 November 2009

The regulator of dangerous chemicals has declined to set a timetable to phase out the controversial log fumigant methyl bromide.

Draft recommendations from the Environmental Risk Management Authority ERMA) would allow the continued use of the toxic gas under stricter controls.

They include a buffer zone of up to 100m downwind from fumigation.

The authority says methyl bromide poses a low health risk while a ban could harm the export economy.

Industry-led group Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction says the decision strikes a good balance between public safety concerns and the gas's great value as a fumigant.

But the Soil and Health Association says the specified buffer zones are not nearly large enough to keep people safe.

A final decision on its reassessment is due next year.