Use of methyl bromide in fumigation at Napier Port is to cease by the end of this year.
The decision comes a decade after log-export companies and others using the methyl bromide processes were warned New Zealand would also be phasing its use out.
Napier was one of three New Zealand ports still using methyl bromide fumigation and the port board and senior management team have decided to cease the process of fumigating log rows under tarpaulins from January 1, or earlier if no longer required.
But a solution is imminent, with major port services operator ISO Ltd, which provides its services to at least four of the companies exporting logs through the port, confirming it has been working with exporters in Napier and across other ports for several years on a replacement for fumigation.
A Napier Port state of the art new high-capacity debarking machine will be operating within a purpose-built building at the company's Napier operations by the end of this year.
The fumigation services were provided not by the port but by arrangement between exporters and specialist fumigations company Genera Biosecurity.
Napier Port chief executive officer Todd Dawson said the company has advised all parties, and the decision would not have been a surprise.
"It's a conversation we have been having for some time with our customers and service providers at the port," he said.
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Dawson said the Environmental Protection Agency's expectation for a number of years had been that industry was actively investigating alternatives and preparing to cease methyl bromide fumigation in the event of it becoming increasingly difficult for providers to safely comply with new legislation.
"It has been Napier Port's long-standing intention to end methyl bromide fumigation once a feasible alternative is available," he said. "While we have always implemented a range of measures to ensure safe use, the best option is an alternative to fumigation."
It had become increasingly important to the board, shareholders and the workforce and community as Port Napier advanced sustainability practices, including the port's environmental footprint and social responsibility.
Dawson said other benefits include reducing machine-people risk, improving log-yard utilisation and repurposing bark into mulch to be used on orchards, gardens and planting projects.
Methyl bromide had been used under increasingly strict conditions in fumigation of containers to some degree at the port for close to 30 years, and to fumigate the growing numbers of logs over the last decade.
In 2018 it was reported 118 tonnes had been used in the previous year, with China and India requiring logs to be treated with methyl bromide.