The EPA swung into action over a leaflet printed by a ‘‘concerned resident’’ that called for ‘‘urgent action’’ over the use of methyl bromide, an ‘‘ozone depleting’’ fumigant that is being phased out of use in Australia.
Ironically, Crawfords Freightlines began fumigating at Sandgate after the Newcastle Herald revealed concerns in 2010 about the way the timber was being fumigated en route to China by another company ‘‘under tarpaulins’’ on Dyke Point at Carrington.
He said Crawfords Freightlines processed about 60 to 80 containers of timber a week and everyone from timber cutters through to truck drivers, yard hands, fumigators and train crews would have no work in the short term.
‘‘Given the other government agencies were well aware of what was being done, it would be good if the EPA would arrive at some interim measure to allow us to carry on while the broader issues were settled,’’ Crawford said.
EPA director Gary Davey said the amount of methyl bromide being used at Crawfords Freightlines appeared to be ‘‘above the scheduled threshold’’, meaning it needed an Environmental Protection Licence for the activity.