The Environmental Protection Agency EPA has approved a new gas to fumigate export logs and timber.
The EPA’s decision to approve EDN - manufactured by Czech-based Draslovka Agricultural Solutions - is a “major win” says its director Kade McConville.
“It is an excellent outcome with very favourable controls imposed by the EPA on the use of EDN which will make EDN commercially feasible in New Zealand.
“The EPA’s decision to approve EDN is a significant milestone for both Draslovka as well as New Zealand.
“The New Zealand timber industry can now access a safer, more sustainable and effective fumigation treatment.”
Kade says wider uptake of EDN can also make a “meaningful contribution” to New Zealand’s pledge to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
“Until now there hasn’t been any effective alternative fumigation treatment to methyl bromide in New Zealand.
“We now look forward to engaging with local stakeholders on the phasing in of EDN as a safer alternative to methyl bromide at key fumigation locations around the country.”
In its recently released decision, the EPA says EDN is a new tool to kill common pests found in wood and a potential alternative to methyl bromide.
EDN is already approved for use in Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, and Russia.
The EPA says its role in regulating hazardous substances involves carefully balancing environmental, health, economic, and cultural factors.
“The application process for EDN has been lengthy due to the complex technical considerations required for the safe use of the fumigant," says Dr Chris Hill, general manager of the EPA’s Hazardous Substances group.
"The benefits of EDN are that it rapidly decomposes after use, it is ozone-friendly, and has reduced risks to human health and the environment compared with methyl bromide."
Dr Hill says a range of controls have been developed for the use of EDN.
These include a maximum application rate, and that it is used in specific wind conditions, only under tarpaulins or in shipping containers.
Dr Hill says EDN is only for use by professionals in commercial settings.
Although the EPA has approved the EDN application, the fumigant cannot be imported or used immediately.
Dr Hill says additional WorkSafe rules to protect workers, which are approved in principle, now require ministerial sign-off and gazetting.
The EPA decision-making committee will sign the approval to take effect along with the WorkSafe rules.
Dr Hill says the EPA decision means the Ministry for Primary Industries can progress negotiations with trading partners on acceptance of EDN, as an option to meet their import biosecurity requirements.
Timber imports and exports are worth more than $6 billion to the New Zealand economy.
Kade McConville says the EPA decision means EDN is the first direct replacement to existing fumigation treatments, most commonly methyl bromide and sulfuryl fluoride.
“Methyl bromide is a prolific ozone depletor and sulfuryl fluoride, albeit not registered for use in New Zealand, is a detrimental greenhouse gas.”
In contrast with these traditional treatments, Kade says the use of EDN has a “net-zero” environmental impact and is more effective.
“It is not an ozone depleting substance, is not a greenhouse gas, and does not bio-accumulate. Most importantly, EDN is better for the health and safety of fumigation workers and the surrounding communities.”
Draslovka Agricultural Solutions has been shortlisted for the Australian Financial Review’s 2022 Sustainability Leaders for its development of EDN.
Kade says the next step for the introduction of EDN is regional council approvals.
“We are very excited to start this new chapter in fumigation of New Zealand timber and look forward to cooperating with the authorities to make it a reality.”