Toxic burning banned to prevent dioxins

  • Marian Hobbs

Nationwide bans on toxic burning that releases dioxins into the air come into effect today, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said.

The bans have been introduced under the Resource Management Act as national environmental standards, aimed at preventing the release of dioxins and other toxics into the air.

They prohibit the open burning of tyres, coated wire and oil; road seal burning (bitumen burn-off), and any landfill fires. New high temperature hazardous waste incinerators are also banned, and from October 2006, all school and hospital incinerators will be banned unless they have resource consent.

"New Zealand has just ratified the Stockholm Convention to take action against toxic chemicals in our atmosphere. This is a direct response that will protect people's health and wellbeing, and give them a sense of security," Marian Hobbs said.

The 14 national environmental standards are the first and were approved by the government in July. Other standards come into effect in September next year. They are: five for ambient (outdoor) air quality, one for the design of new wood burners in urban areas, and one requiring landfills to collect and destroy their greenhouse gases.

Regional councils are responsible for implementing and enforcing the regulations, and for managing the air quality in their regions.

"The standards received widespread support, including from business, local government and communities during the public consultation phase. They are an example of using the Resource Management Act to create greater consistency on how common issues are dealt with at the local level," Marian Hobbs said.

"Consistent national standards improve certainty for landowners, developers, and the community regarding how proposals will be dealt with by the various councils,” said Marian Hobbs.

Greater use of environmental standards is among the proposed improvements to the Resource Management Act announced last month.

NOTE to reporters: Additional information on the national environmental standards is in the attached table.

National environmental standard
Date of effect
Ban on burning tyres in the open(8 October 2004)
Ban on bitumen burning for road maintenance(8 October 2004)
Ban on burning coated wire in the open(8 October 2004)
Ban on burning oil in the open
(8 October 2004)
Ban on landfill fires(8 October 2004)
Ban on new high temperature hazardous waste incinerators(8 October 2004)
Ban on all school and hospital incinerators unless they obtain resource consent(October 2006)
Five ambient (outdoor) air standards for:·fine particles (PM10) ·nitrogen dioxide ·ozone ·sulphur dioxide ·carbon monoxide(September 2005 –councils must monitor and publicly report any exceedances. 2013 – councils cannot grant new discharge consents for emission of fine particles to air in areas that exceed the standard.)
Design and efficiency standard for new wood burners in urban areas – all new wood burners in urban areas must have a discharge limit of less than 1.5 grams of fine particles per kilogram of wood burnt and a thermal efficiency of greater than 65 percent.(September 2005)
Operating landfills over 1,000,000 tonnes must collect and destroy their landfill gas(September 2007 if not already doing so)