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Source: Environmental Protection Authority

An Auckland-based company applied to import or manufacture a creosote-containing substance (identified as J57.78) in containment. Creosote, a carcinogenic substance, is not approved in New Zealand and is heavily restricted overseas.

The applicant intended to use the substance in timber treatment trials in order to assess its suitability as an alternative to copper chrome arsenate timber treatments, with the treated wood produced by the trials to be sold for use as fence posts or vineyard posts.

It said it needed to import or manufacture up to 400,000 litres of the concentrate to dilute into two million litres of ready-to-use product, with large volumes required to carry out full-scale commercial testing in realistic timber treatment scenarios.

“There was a risk that, given the applicant’s plans to sell the treated timber, members of the public could be exposed to this highly toxic substance. The risk of exposure to the public, the environment, and non-target animals, was uncertain,” says the EPA’s General Manager of Regulatory Systems and Operations, Siobhan Quayle.

“As with all applications, the risks and benefits were carefully considered. Based on the information available, the containment requirements were not met – and therefore the application was declined.”

Section 2 of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 defines containment of hazardous substances as “restricting a substance to a secure location or facility to prevent escape”. The containment requirement also extends to any products treated with the hazardous substance throughout its lifetime, in this case up to 5,000 m3 of treated wood.

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