The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has published the Safe Management of PCBs: Code of Practice, a guide for all holders of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and collectors of PCBs, and for all those with statutory or other responsibilities in managing PCBs. This Code of Practice is an update to the previous Ministry of Health’s Code of Practice (Revised 2008).
The code is available to download from the EPA website: Safe Management of PCBs Code of Practice (PDF, 1.1MB)
The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Stockholm Convention) Amendment Act 2003 amended the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO Act) and gave effect to the requirements of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The Stockholm Convention and the HSNO Act came into force in New Zealand in December 2004. The Stockholm Convention aims to protect human health and the environment by banning the production and use of some of the most toxic chemicals known to humankind. Substances listed as persistent organic pollutants in the Convention, include among others polychlorinated bipheyls (PCBs). PCBs are environmentally persistent and have been demonstrated to cause a variety of adverse health effects.
The Stockholm Convention recognises that PCBs are still in use and that their elimination, or in some cases replacement in accordance with more environmentally friendly substances, must be undertaken in accordance with a managed replacement plan. Most New Zealand stocks of PCBs have already been shipped overseas and destroyed in a nationwide recall of PCBs used in the electrical supply industry.
Update to 2004 Notice
In December 2016 the EPA updated the Hazardous Substances (Storage and Disposal of Persistent Organic Pollutants) Notice 2004 to allow for the disposal of PCBs to be managed in a similar way to other persistent organic pollutants. The updated Gazette Notice includes requirements for:
- the storage of PCBs
- notification of collectors of PCBs to the EPA, and
- specific controls to be met in relation to packaging, emergency management, and identification duties.
The export of any persistent organic pollutants, including PCBs, as wastes is subject to a permit from the EPA under the Imports and Exports (Restrictions) Prohibition Order (No 2) 2004 and must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
For more information
For information on Convention and a summary of the historical use of persistent organic pollutants in New Zealand, see the Ministry for the Environment website: Stockholm Convention of Persistent Organic Pollutants