Ban Corexit, mayor urges

By Michele Hunter

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Mr Crosby told the  Bay of Plenty Times  there were too many unanswered questions about Corexit.
Mr Crosby told the Bay of Plenty Times there were too many unanswered questions about Corexit.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby wants the oil dispersant Corexit banned in New Zealand, saying its ongoing acceptance will damage New Zealand's international reputation.

His call follows reports the chemical, used during the Rena clean-up, has been linked to deaths and serious illness in America and will no longer be used by Australia's Maritime Safety Authority.

In New Zealand, Corexit 9527 and 9500 are approved for use by Maritime NZ, which stores 3000 litres of Corexit 9527 at the Port of Tauranga.

Mr Crosby told the Bay of Plenty Times there were too many unanswered questions about Corexit and it was yet to be proven as a safe dispersant.

"It should never be used in this country and it should be removed safely and gotten rid of," he said.

He supported the use of other oil spill clean-up methods, including booms and skimming, and was disappointed Maritime NZ still considered Corexit, which was ineffective in the conditions during the Rena clean-up, an option.

"They should have learned from the Rena that it's not a product that should be used in this country," he said.

Corexit is no longer used in the United Kingdom and Sweden and Mr Crosby said the international community knowing New Zealand was using it was damaging to its clean, green image.

"We should not put at risk our international reputation by using these type of products," he said.

Green Party member Dr Ian McLean was involved in the Rena clean-up and thought the use of Corexit was "really stupid" because it added another pollutant to the water. "Supposedly, we were told that it was only put on to the water with outgoing winds and tides."

Given the community backlash, he suspected Maritime NZ would be "very, very cautious about trying to use it again".

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said the Rena clean-up was the only instance Corexit had been used in New Zealand. The Government had not received any scientific data to support statements made on the Australian 60 Minutes programme and at this stage there were no reports of ill-health because of oil or the Corexit used, he said.

Awanui Black, chairman of the Te Moana a Toi Iwi Leaders' Forum, said members were opposed to the use of Corexit during the Rena clean-up and wanted it banned.

"Our people were opposed to it for the reason that there was very little research around its effects. We have been trying to hold [Bay of Plenty] Regional Council and the Government to account on the effects of the chemicals, both on board the Rena and the dispersants being utilised. What we are calling for now is a total ban of that particular substance in the Bay of Plenty area and New Zealand."

Mr Black said there was particular concern over Corexit among Maori because of its potential to contaminate seafood.

Maritime NZ said Corexit was used only when careful analysis showed its use would provide a net environmental benefit.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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