Regulator refuses to ban Reef's most dangerous pesticide



[news_posted_on] 21 September 2012  | 
The dangerous chemical diuron will continue to eat away at the Great Barrier Reef if recommendations by Australia’s pesticide watchdog are implemented, WWF-Australia warned today.

Diuron is a known or likely carcinogen that represents 80 per cent of herbicide pollution pressure on the Reef and has been found at levels harmful to coral up to 60 kilometres inside the World Heritage Area.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority today released the findings of a long running review into diuron. The report did recommend reductions in the use of the dangerous chemical, but it failed to recommend a total ban.

WWF spokesperson Nick Heath said the report proposes application rates up to 450 grams per hectare, despite the science telling us that these rates are dangerous to the rivers draining into the Great Barrier Reef.

Scientific reports released in just the last six months show that diuron:

• Represents a clear threat to the health of marine and freshwater ecosystems
• Is the dominant herbicide entering the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and its catchments.
• Is so persistent in the environment that it’s half-life has been found in some cases to be more than 500 days
• Is, according to the APVMA itself, unsafe at application rates above 160 grams per hectare
• Acts in concert with other pesticides and stressors
• Is reducing the resilience of ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef

“The APVMA’s proposal to continue the use of diuron comes in the same week that Minister Burke says we need stronger seagrass protection, and at a time when thousands of starving turtles and hundreds dugongs are washing up along the coast.

“UNESCO is already warning that the Reef could be listed as World Heritage in Danger.

“To not ban this toxic threat to seagrass would be a tragic missed opportunity.”

Note to editors:
An infographic map in a report produced by the Australian and Queensland Governments shows that diuron represents up to 80 per cent of herbicide toxicity found along the Great Barrier Reef coastline. The map can be accessed at (page 53): http://www.reefplan.qld.gov.au/measuring-success/report-cards/assets/gbr-region.pdf

WWF-Australia contact:
Daniel Rockett, Senior Media Officer, WWF-Australia, 0432 206 592, drockett@wwf.org.au
Siltation at a rivermouth close to Bundaberg. Queensland, Australia.
Siltation at a rivermouth close to Bundaberg. Queensland, Australia.
© Jürgen Freund / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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