Another blow was to dealt to NZ's 100% Pure reputation today. First it was the Brazilian tourists who say they were sprayed with brush killer whilst hiking in the Kahurangi National Park, now it's a group of contractors who allege they had toxic 1080 pellets dropped on their heads whilst out working. Ironically the aggrevied men were contractors spraying weed killer in Lucy's Gully near New Plymouth.
In a report published on Stuff one of the contractors is alleged to have said
"We've got poison dropping on top of us, we just wanted to get the hell out of there...... it's a scary thought," contractor Lewis Beattie told One News.
The crew got out of the gully and his brother, Dan, tried to find out what was happening from his employer, when he said another helicopter flew over and dropped another load of the highly toxic poison on them.
While the two men admit they are strongly opposed to 1080 use, they said their colleagues were not speaking out because they feared for their jobs if they raised any objection to being showered with the poison.
DOC spokesman Phil Fleury said the department had informed the men about the drop two days earlier.
Residents living near to the drop-zone filmed the helicopters at work, and expressed concern over the poison getting into sources of water or flying outside of approved areas, the channel reported.
1080 is the brand name for Sodium fluoroacetate. In New Zealand, DOC uses the poison to control possums and rats. "
A bit more light was shed on the incident by The Herald who say that the contractors were not phoned or warned about the drop until after it took place and that:
"DOC said it had no obligation to warn the contractors. Spokesman Phil Fleury said they had been told two days in advance that the poison could be spread dependent on the weather.If they don't consider people to be at risk during the operation why bother issuing an alert two days previously? Either the stuff is safe, or it isn't. Trampers and day trippers aren't so lucky, they don't get 'courtesy calls' what are DOC's obligations toward them?
"The courtesy call is the 48 hours notice and the choice that they can make to be in there or not. We don't consider people were at risk while they were in the park while this operation was on."
It makes the personal account of the Brazilian trampers all the more credible and it's interesting to note that at the time they were exposed to the aerial spraying of weed killer they said:
"Most times we would see 1080 drops around the tracks and when they spray they don't seem to care if anyone is there. Many of the travellers we met were saying the same thing. New Zealand's 1080 poison and weed spraying programmes will definitely have a big negative impact on your tourism."Are we detecting a recurrent theme here?
For other posts about toxic 1080, a poison that is broadcast from helicopters to kill unwanted mammals in the landscape see HERE
Today's posts - click here