Curtin professor is appointed Chief Scientist for EPA

The Environmental Protection Authority has appointed Kiwi expat Professor Michael Bunce to the role of Chief Scientist.

Professor Bunce has sequenced ancient DNA from the fossil bones of moa and giant eagles but more recently has developed methods to survey biodiversity in water by recovering the DNA that animals leave behind.

He has built a distinguished career and reputation applying his genetics expertise to a range of taxonomic, ecological, medical, and environmental issues.

Professor Bunce is presently serving as Professor of Environmental Genomics at Curtin University, Western Australia, and heads the University’s Trace and Environmental DNA laboratory. Continue reading

EPA approval is sought for new fungicide

Public submissions have opened on an application to manufacture a fungicide in New Zealand for use in the control of a disease which affects wheat.

Dow AgroSciences (NZ) Ltd is seeking approval to manufacture GF-3308, for control of speckled leaf blotch (Septoria tritici) and also to suppress brown leaf rust (Puccinia triticina).

The applicant proposes that GF-3308 would be applied by ground-based and aerial broadcast spray methods.

The EPA’s General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter says the active ingredient in GF-3308 – fenpicoxamid – is a new active ingredient in New Zealand.

It is approved in the European Union, as well as Guatemala, Panama, and Ecuador.

The applicant, Dow AgroSciences, says GF-3308 would help to reduce the significant financial impact the fungal disease Septoria tritici has on wheat growers. It says there are reports of resistance in Septoria triticito existing fungicides, in New Zealand and other wheat-producing countries, and this product would provide an additional tool for resistance management.

Dow also notes that GF-3308 is highly toxic in aquatic environments, however it considers that standard control measures used by the EPA to mitigate any risks from spray drift – such as specifying spray droplet size and buffer zones – could be considered for GF-3308.

This application is being publicly notified to enable the public to comment and to put all relevant information before the decision makers.

Public submissions close at 5pm on 9 May 2019.

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority

Reassessment of plant growth regulator Meteor

Public submissions are open on an application to reassess restrictions on the use of Meteor, a substance used to thin pip fruit.

On November 12 2018 a decision-making committee appointed by the Environmental Protection Authority decided there were grounds for the reassessment because of ‘information showing a significant change of use’.

This is a modified reassessment and is only considering some proposed changes.

The applicant, AgriNova NZ Limited, wants to reduce both the maximum application rate and the restricted entry interval (how long access to the treated area is restricted after spraying). It also proposes that buffer zones may be reduced as a consequence of reduced application rates.

AgriNova has identified no potential adverse effects associated with the proposed changes.

It says the potential benefits are:

  • reduced risk to environment due to applying a lesser amount of active substance
  • an increase in efficiency and flexibility of crop management and better utilisation of staff
  • an enhanced ability to monitor for pests and disease.

The application is being publicly notified to enable people to provide us with additional information they believe we should be aware of, such as positive or negative effects of the proposed changes.

Submissions close at 5pm on May 1.

Details are available on the EPA website.

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority

The EPA goes digital to gather data on bee poisonings

The Environmental Protection Authority has made it easier for beekeepers around New Zealand to advise it about suspected poisoning of bees and other pollinators.

The authority’s new online reporting form means keepers can jump on to the EPA website to provide details about any poisoning incidents that may have affected their hives.

The information is gathered so the authority can report to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Pollinator Incidents Information System. The system allows OECD member countries (New Zealand is one of them) to collect and share information quickly and consistently about incidents that may be potentially linked to pesticides.

These reports help the authority to compare incidents and make the best decisions to ensure bees and other pollinators in New Zealand are protected from harm.

Report an incident, or check out the new form.

Find out more about our work to protect bees and other pollinators in New Zealand.

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority

CEMARS certification affirms EPA commitment to reducing its carbon footprint

The Environmental Protection Authority’s commitment to reducing its own carbon footprint has been affirmed by its being certified as a CEMARS (Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme) organisation.

Protecting the environment is at the heart of everything the EPA does, says chief executive Dr Allan Freeth.

“It’s only right that we strive for this in every way, including the way we manage our own organisation, and that we’re open and transparent about doing that,” he says.

“And in our case, committing to reducing our carbon emissions is entirely in keeping with our responsibility for administering New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

“Getting CEMARS certification is the start of a journey for us, to identify, measure and reduce our own carbon emissions.”

The EPA and the public could have confidence in the fact its progress was audited and verified by an independent body, Enviro-Mark Solutions, to internationally recognised standards, Dr Freeth says.

The EPA is determined to reduce the three main causes of its greenhouse gas emissions.

By 1 July 2021, its target is to reduce emissions per FTE from electricity use by 8%, reducing paper usage and the volume of waste going to landfill by 15%, and reduce emissions due to staff business travel by 8%.

The EPA has joined the Ministry for the Environment and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) in being CEMARS certified.

It was presented with its framed CEMARS certificate earlier this week.

The summary disclosure statement about EPA’s CEMARS certification and goals can be read HERE. 

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority

New Zealand implements hydrofluorocarbon rules to help cool the planet

The Environmental Protection Authority is leading New Zealand’s implementation of the Kigali Amendment, an international agreement to reduce the levels of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.

A new permitting scheme to protect New Zealand and New Zealanders from climate change will be introduced in February next year, to be applied to all bulk imports and exports of HFC gases, which are used in refrigeration units and air-conditioning units.

Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter, General Manager of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Hazardous Substances group, said science has shown HFC gases are potent greenhouse gases, which means they capture heat from the sun and release it into the Earth’s atmosphere.

HFC gases have a high global warming potential (GWP), which can be as much as 50 to 14,800 times more than carbon dioxide.

The Kigali Amendment builds on the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which has been instrumental in repairing ozone layer damage caused by ozone-depleting gases during the 1980s.

“If Kigali is successful it is estimated it could reverse current warming up to an estimated 0.5 degrees by the end of the century,” said Dr Thomson-Carter.

“The EPA’s role under the Ozone Layer Protection Regulations will see the Authority manage the permit system for 18 different HFC gases.”

Read more about the Kigali Amendment here.

Source: Environmental Protection Authority

EPA aims to establish modern chemical management system for NZ

The Environmental Protection Authority is pressing ahead with its programme of work to create a modern chemical management system for New Zealand.

The approach features in the EPA’s latest Annual Report alongside key activities that span consumer safety around hazardous substances, its risk assessment approach; an extensive chemical reassessments programme and a prototype chemical atlas to map New Zealand’s chemical loading by geographic region.

The authority’s Annual Report covers a wide range of activities including:

  • The introduction and issuing of Caution Notices that signal to New Zealanders when extra vigilance is needed around the use of certain common chemicals.
  • The Safer Homes Programme which aims to help families stay safe around household chemical products.
  • Workshops for importers, suppliers and operators of low-cost stores to promote a better understanding of their obligations under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act.
  • The public release of the decision to grant, subject to conditions, marine consents and marine discharge consents to Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd. This set a record of 13,733 submissions.
  • Two Boards of Inquiry for the East West Link and Northern Corridor Proposals of National Significance, both in Auckland.
  • The investigation into fire-fighting foams manufactured using PFOS or PFOA.
  • The approval of a genetically-modified virus Telomelysin, as part of a clinical trial for patients with advanced and inoperable melanoma.

Source: Environmental Protection Authority