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Published: 2007-02-09 00:00:00

More than 140 farmers have registered for Environment Waikato’s free collection of old, unwanted and unused agrichemicals, which begins in the Waitomo district today.

“We were really pleased with the response we got to the letters sent out and the publicity in the Waitomo News,” Environment Waikato resource use programme manager David Stagg said.

“We made contact with more than 500 farmers and as a result we have registered 148 people, which is fantastic.”

The collection, being run in conjunction with the Ministry for the Environment, includes pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and animal remedies.

Mr Stagg said agrichemicals that had passed their used by date, were no longer registered for use, or were no longer required could pose a risk to people and the environment.

“As a signatory to the Stockholm Convention, New Zealand has agreed to stop using some of the more persistent chemicals, such as DDT, dieldrin, lindane, chlordane, 245T, arsenic sprays and sheep dips, so we are pleased to see farmers taking the opportunity to get rid of them,” he said.

“Waitomo was chosen as the initial target for the collection because there are a lot of sheep and beef farms in this area, where these types of chemicals are most likely to be found.”

Some of the less harmful chemicals will be taken to Auckland to be disposed of and the remainder will be shipped to specialised incineration facilities in Europe.

Registrations for the agrichemical collection closed on January 26, but those who missed the deadline can drop off their agrichemicals with the operator at the Te Kuiti Transfer Station.

“It is important to correctly dispose of chemicals,” Mr Stagg said. “They are hazardous to people and the environment, and some can cause residue to appear in farm produce.”

Environment Waikato will be evaluating the Waitomo operation and asking for input from district councils as it considers running similar collections in other areas over the coming financial year.

For more information on the disposal of agrichemicals call David Stagg on Environment Waikato’s freephone, 0800 800 401.

Environment Waikato would like to thank Waikato and Waitomo Federated Farmers, Fonterra and the Waikato Pesticide Awareness Committee (WaiPAC) for their help with the project.