International Dioxin Developments

January 25, 2017 | Commercial Litigation | Complex Torts & Product Liability

Dioxin Clean-Up to Begin at New Zealand’s Kopeopeo Canal

Authorities in a New Zealand town have awarded a contract to a consortium led by Auckland-based EnviroWaste Services Limited to remove sediment containing dioxin from a 5.1 kilometer section of the Kopeopeo Canal.

Background

The Kopeopeo Canal was built during the 1920s to convey drainage and floodwaters from low-lying farmlands into a nearby estuary.

According to a report by the local government, the canal was contaminated between the 1950s and late 1980s as a result of stormwater discharges from a former sawmill, which treated timber using pentachlorophenol (“PCP”). The government asserted that, although unknown at the time, PCP imported into New Zealand for use in the timber processing industry also included a percentage of impurities that contained dioxins.

The owner of the Kopeopeo Canal is the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Technical Services Group. It has said that its plan, designed to be implemented in a staged approach, is to remove, safely store, and bioremediate up to 40,000 cubic meters of sediment from three separate sites at the canal.

The government’s goal for the project is “[t]o safely remove and treat a legacy of industrial dioxin pollution, thereby restoring the mauri of the Kopeopeo Canal and the Whakatāne River and developing their full potential to contribute to the well-being of tangata whenua, the community and visitors for generations to come.”

The estimated cost of the project is NZD 10.8 million, to be equally funded by the Ministry for the Environment through the Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund (“CSRF”) and by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Contract Awarded

With the award of the contract, work on the project reportedly will begin shortly.

A local news report quoted the project manager, Brendon Love, as saying, there “will be a period of a few weeks while the contractor makes sure that all the paperwork is in place. There are significant conditions attached to the consent to cover monitoring, flood management, site management, and final design documentation prior to construction.

“So it will take a bit of time for EnviroWaste to ensure they have all the necessary plans and procedures in place before construction starts. But we expect to be able to start building a containment cell in January and then start dredging the first of the sediment out of the canal in the first quarter of 2017.”

Mr. Love added, “We have been talking about this project on paper for years now. I know that there was some community concern with the old method and while it has taken a considerable effort to trial a new method and vary the consents, I believe that hard work is finally paying off. We now have a method that meets both the project and community needs and finally we can start to see this contamination taken out of our canal and safely stored and treated.”

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India’s Pollution Control Board to Study Dioxin Presence in City

The Pollution Control Board in India will be studying the ambient air in the city of Thiruvananthapuram, India, for the presence of dioxin as a result of the open-air burning of waste.

According to a report in the Times of India, the Pollution Control Board (“Board”) will be conducting the study together with the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (“NIIST”), a constituent laboratory of India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (“CSIR”).

The Times story quoted a Board official as saying, “Ever since waste management ran out of order and public dumping became a common practice in the city, burning of waste in open places has emitted dioxins and furans at alarming levels. These toxic chemicals produce fatal health consequences and we have not studied the actual levels of dioxin in the city.”

The news report also noted that an NIIST scientist leading the study, Ajit Haridas, said that the amount of dioxins produced due to open burning was 3,000 to 4,000 times higher than those produced in a controlled incinerator. He added, “Equipment for sampling, analysis, and measurements have been imported. We are constructing an open air burning facility in our campus so as to gauge the levels of dioxin being released into the air. Once the product/emission factor is determined, the dioxin presence resulted from burning of a particular quantity of waste in the city can be found out. We are planning to compile the report within five months.”

A research paper that apparently led the Board to decide to conduct its study reportedly referenced a report that stated that burning trash in the open produced dioxins and furans, according to the Times.

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China Bans Import of 19 Cosmetic Products from South Korea, Ostensibly for Exceeding Dioxin Limits

China has banned the import of 19 cosmetic products from South Korea, asserting that the products exceed the permitted levels of dioxin – but South Korean executives reportedly are baffled as to the reason for the import prohibition.

According to news reports, China has banned products including shampoo and body wash produced by Aekyung, CJ Lion Corp., IASO, and Kocostar for exceeding the country’s dioxin limits. The affected companies believe that the real reason for the ban has nothing to do with dioxin, but with politics. One executive, quoted anonymously, said, “We are very embarrassed about the announcement because there’s nothing wrong with our products. We have no idea but we assume that it is part of China’s retaliation against Seoul.”

China recently warned the South Korean government not to deploy a missile defense system supplied by the United States. The South Koreans contend that the system is intended to protect the country from North Korea.

For further information, please contact James V. Aiosa, Paul V. Majkowski, Lawrence S. Han, or your regular Rivkin Radler attorney.

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