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Deadly gas licences must be reviewed: Milne

Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne wants the Federal government to review all licences for the use of methyl bromide following an announcement that Tas Ports plans to pump 1.5 tonnes of the deadly gas into a moored ship near George Town.

Senator Milne commented that the use of methyl bromide is outdated and unnecessary as alternatives are available, and the EU has already banned its use.

"Upon hearing that Tas Ports intends using methyl bromide in the hold of a ship moored just six kilometres away from George Town, it is clear to me that a number of issues are in urgent need of address.

"First is the matter of methyl bromide itself. This chemical, put simply is deadly. It is invisible, odourless and if inhaled it can cause internal burns and damage to the central nervous system.

"Add to this its ability to deplete ozone and you have a particularly nasty substance on the verge of being used just a stone's throw away from people's homes.

"Secondly, while granting licences for its use, the Federal government outline on their own website a range of alternatives to this toxic chemical.

"For the purpose of sanitising logs, as is the case here, the International Plant Protection Convention outlines the alternatives of heat treatment, irradiation, or the simple removal of bark.

"Shouldn't the government be recommending these alternatives instead of granting licences?

"The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer outlined 2015 as the year to phase out the use of ozone depleting chemicals, including methyl bromide, but excluded pre-shipment and quarantine uses from its plan.

"Alternatives to methyl bromide are clearly available, so it is time the government follows the lead set by the EU this year and introduces an outright ban on the use of this toxic substance.

"Once again, destruction of the environment is being used to subsidise the timber industry."


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