STIMBR: Background to EDN decisions

Wednesday 4 May 2022

 
Decisions on Methyl Bromide and EDN - In August 2021 a decision on the Reassessment of methyl bromide for fumigation of logs was released by the EPA. This was followed more recently by the release of the decision approving the use of EDN in mid-April 2022.

Both processes had taken considerable time and resource, methyl bromide almost 2.5 years and EDN almost 5 years. To maintain trade of logs with some countries, fumigation treatments are required. Over 71% of all logs exported from NZ are now treated with in-transit, in-hold fumigation using phosphine. China is the only market that accepts phosphine as a treatment with over 14 million tonnes being treated this way last year. The ability to increase the phosphine treated volume is close to maximised unless there are significant changes to ship types or a reduction in top stow logs carried as phosphine is restricted to underdeck treatment as it requires 240 hours to complete the fumigation.

China also accepts debarked logs and methyl bromide treated logs. In 2020, debarking was applied to about 9% of logs exported and the balance was treated with methyl bromide.

Debarking volumes continue to grow, and methyl bromide volumes continue to decline as shown below when measured in percentage terms, but when considered in volume terms, the decline of methyl bromide is not as pronounced due to rising export log volumes.

Even with these decisions now announced, it is probable that fumigation using methyl bromide or EDN will only be permitted at Tauranga and Northport, unless off-port facilities are established elsewhere.

Methyl Bromide - The key operational points from the Reassessment Decision were around increased buffer zones when fumigating and increasing requirement to recapture methyl bromide after completion of the fumigation.

Of particular importance was the need for extensive buffers (900 metres) around any ship hold fumigation with methyl bromide. As this is impossible to achieve (given this extends both outside the Port boundaries on the landward side and into the marine environment on the seaward side), all fumigation of ships holds effectively ended shortly after the decision last year.

This has far-reaching effects and has resulted in an almost complete cessation of log export to India from New Zealand as methyl bromide is the only treatment accepted by Indian Authorities. This also means over 90% reliance on China as a market for our logs.

Recapture of gas remaining after fumigation under tarpaulins is being further developed by Genera and is likely to allow ongoing use of methyl bromide for the next few years at least, but with increasingly tighter requirements and the need to adequately destroy, recycle or reuse the methyl bromide recaptured.

Globally, efforts to reduce methyl bromide use have been ongoing for decades due to the adverse impact of the gas on the ozone layer. While use is restricted to phytosanitary activities some jurisdictions have also moved to ban its use completely.

STIMBR has shown that considerably lower rates of methyl bromide will achieve the same phytosanitary results, but to date, importing countries have yet to accept these results and change their requirements. Acceptance of these lower application rates would increase the ability to recapture the remaining gas and to reduce the environmental impact if its use.

EDN - On 12 April 2022 the EPA released the long-awaited decision on the registration of EDN as a fumigation chemical for export logs. STIMBR and the Applicant, Draslovka have invested heavily in the process over the past 5 years but are pleased that the decision is reasonable, workable and logical.

The decision allows EDN to be used at up to 120 grams/m3 for under tarpaulin and shipping container fumigation operations without recapture of any gas remaining at the end of the fumigation process. Commercial scale testing has shown that rates lower than 120 grams will achieve the control required of the treatment so actual application rates may be lower in practice.

The decision also provides details of records to be maintained, buffer zones, weather conditions and a range of controls for the use of EDN. Importantly, these controls and requirements are similar to current requirements for methyl bromide fumigations and are considered both reasonable and workable.

The decision did not allow fumigation of ship holds nor, interestingly, despite a request from MPI, did it allow EDN fumigation for imports. Applications seeking reassessments to permit these activities are being considered.

EDN has the potential to replace methyl bromide for export log fumigation where it is approved by importing countries for inclusion in their treatment schedules. MPI is responsible for negotiating these approvals and has talks underway with both India and China.

Methyl bromide has been used successfully in this role for decades and is widely accepted as an effective fumigant. Any replacement needed evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness to achieve the desired outcomes.

EDN is proven against the pest species of concern on export logs, does not require recapture and is used in a manner that is like methyl bromide.

While EDN is now registered for use in NZ on exports, there remain some hurdles to overcome, the most significant being the need to gain importing country approval of EDN as a phytosanitary treatment and internally in NZ, ensuring there are fumigators to use the product with required Resource Consents specific to each port. Work with trading partners (India and China) has been ongoing for some time, The release of this decision adds new impetus to these negotiations.

STIMBR is extremely pleased to have a proven alternative to methyl bromide that is environmentally more friendly and is not difficult or more costly to use, so that the trade in export logs can continue. The need for additional phytosanitary tools has become even more apparent with the removal of the trade with India and the limited capacity to debark all the volume that would have been previously treated with methyl bromide.

Source: STIMBR





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