—the location of the storage shed that was flooded near Haast
According to Section 66 of the Health and Safety at Work (Major Hazards Facilities) Regulations 2016, any operators of poison storage facilities like these must take all ‘reasonable steps’ to provide full information to the local community and relevant local authorities.
by Carol Sawyer, Mary Wood and Roger Childs
Whatever your view on the use of 1080, have you ever wondered where they have stored the sodium fluoroacetate over the last 50 years? How about near a primary school, behind some shops or in a farm shed near a flood-prone river?
The Department of Conversation (DoC) doesn’t advertise where they are doing the stockpiling, and sometimes don’t even inform the local authorities and fire brigades.
1080 is not only a deadly poison but is also highly flammable.¹ Not surprisingly, there have been fires over the years – at Rotorua, Murupara and Levin.
It has recently come to light that a 1080 storage shed at Haast, South Westland, was invaded by floodwaters in late March. There was plenty of publicity about the bridge being washed out, but none on the 1080 flowing down the river.
Surely it’s long past the time to take toxic 1080 bait storage seriously.
Rotorua firemen affected by 1080 fumes
Back in 2006, at a poison storage site in Rotorua, a serious fire broke out. Fireman were hospitalised after breathing in deadly fumes and smoke.
Residents were also concerned about contamination of water supplies, as the wet, burned toxic waste seeped into the ground through drains.
According to Mary Wood, there have been no known follow-ups by DoC or the Ministry of Health on the environmental impact or the health of those involved in that incident.
1080 fire near Levin last year
In Levin, in January 2018, a building owned by the Horizons Regional Council, and used for 1080 bait storage, caught fire.
The pest control poison 1080 was stored in a Levin depot that was burgled and torched. The fire ripped through the Horizons Regional Council depot destroying equipment and damaging vehicles.
Horizons Regional Council chief executive, Michael McCartney said “…all run-off associated with putting out the fire was contained onsite and there are no environmental or health concerns”!
In a letter from Orillion, the NZ government-owned factory in Whanganui that manufactures 1080 baits, states clearly:
“The burning of products containing even low concentrations of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) may release toxic hydrogen fluoride gas of sufficiently high concentration to cause a danger to humans in the vicinity”.
Unloading and storing at Port Nelson 2014
“The Department of Conservation is refusing to confirm or deny that 1080-laced baits are being handled at a Port Nelson warehouse across the street from a bar-restaurant and close to several other businesses.” Bill Moore, Nelson Mail, 26 September 2014
Merrick Allen reported that unloading was done at lunchtime and that “The ‘Anchor Bar and Grill Restaurant’ entrance is only 50 metres away from the loading site. No barriers or notices, no health warnings, and loading and unloading being done with trucks no more than 10 metres from the public footpath.”
DoC spokeswoman Trish Grant said there were 73 tonnes of non-toxic bait and 150 tonnes of toxic bait in storage in the port industrial area! 150 tonnes of 1080 baits contain enough pure poison to kill over 3 million people, and make another 3 million seriously ill.
1080 stored near the shops in Whitianga
In Whitianga, in 2017, 23.7 tonnes of 1080 baits were stored by DoC at the back of the ‘Liquor King Building’ for more than 4 months prior to an aerial 1080 operation in the Coromandel area. Locals were later informed that the District Fire Chief had been unaware of this.
The Thames-Coromandel District Council was also reportedly in the dark. The building was surrounded by two supermarkets and next door to a Placemakers store. Residential housing was just metres away, over a fence.
On the evening of October 17 during the loading of the packaged1080 on to trucks, the air was thick with dust, which would have landed all over people’s lawns and vegetable gardens. The residents were not informed what was going on.
Tua Marina risks not publicised
If you took your kid to a fun, charity horse event, you wouldn’t expect it to be where one of the world’s deadliest chemicals was also stored.
But this is what’s been happening at Shrawley Equestrian Centre, 121 Thomas Road at Tua Marina in Marlborough. The Tuamarina bait store is 3 km from the school and 700 meters on the other side of the river from the Equestrian Centre.
Regarding the Tua Marina site, Kaye McIlveney, Solicitor for Marlborough District Council commented that the council “has no information on health and safety (Worksafe) or MPI requirements.”
She also confirmed that information about the poison storage area was unlikely to be disclosed in a Land Information Memo (LIM) produced for house-buyers.
Storing 1080 in Te Anau
An old laundry building at 52 Caswell Road, Te Anau, is reportedly used for storing 1080 poison baits before aerial 1080 operations in Fiordland.
JJ Nolan’s Transport Ltd, of Haast has been seen unloading 1080 baits there. The building is at the entrance to Northern Southland Transport’s depot. Northern Southland Transport Ltd deliver 1080 baits for the aerial operations.
Carol was told that “DoC have a lease on the old launderette building in Caswell St. They have stored 1080 in the past. ‘Fiordland Jet’ rent it off DoC while it is not needed.”
On the other side of the building, at 48 Caswell Road is “Safer Parking” !
1080 is very dangerous
It is one of the planet’s deadliest poisons and is banned in most countries.
New Zealand’s use of over 80% of world production is highly controversial. However, even those who support its use to kill predators, need to be concerned about where it is stored.
There is always a fire risk, and 1080 dust and fumes are hazardous to the health of people and animals.
1. A man who works in the poison industry says: “1080 itself is not highly flammable as you have stated, especially when in paste and solution form as I understand it was in the case of the Horizons Depot at Levin. But I guess no fire smoke is good for you and the degree of hazard varies considerably according to the many variables which are different in every fire.”