1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) is approved and labelled as a “deadly poison”. In 2007 its re-approval by ERMA was limited to targeting possums. Rats, mast years and mega masts were not identified as a problem until recently. ERMA approved 1080 use but only where there was social licence, after consultation with affected communities, and only in very remote locations and limited circumstances.
1080 is so toxic that the cereal baits with only 0.15% 1080 poison are still classified as “deadly poisons”.V9602-Label-August-2019
Many dog owners know that the carcasses of possums, pigs, and other animals which have been poisoned by 1080 themselves become deadly baits, are also deadly. They are deadly not just for dogs, but also for kea, ruru and other wildlife. The EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) know this too, as the approved label includes mandatory warnings requiring carcasses to be collected and disposed of.
A single 1080 poison bait can kill a toddler or calf. Just two or three baits can kill an adult human or cow. A former government poison worker reported that in an early trial onesingle bait killed a steer. He knows this because 15 baits were measured into a contained in a paddock and the next day one steer was dead and only a single bait was missing. A very small feed from poisoned carcass can kill a dog.
MPI say eating poisoned trout is a threat, DoC says its safe!!!
We also know that 1080 can directly or indirectly contaminate eels and trout- if they eat the poison bait or a mouse, koura etc which ate the poison. The 1080 might not kill the trout, but will build up in its flesh for at least 6 days creating a risk for any fishers who eats it.
MPI have issued a warning about eating trout contaminated by 1080.
“Minimise risk when hunting or collecting food
Don’t hunt or collect food, such as eels or trout, in and around areas laid with 1080 baits and don’t feed pets or working animals with meat or offal that may contain 1080 (or any other poison). Wait 7 days before fishing for trout after a 1080 baiting operation to minimise any food safety concerns.”
In contrast, DoC’s advice (based on the same research) is that trout taken from a poisoned zone are safe to eat:
MPI risk assessment of trout eating mice poisoned by 1080
“The Ministry for Primary Industries assessed in 2014 that trout caught after aerial 1080 pest control that may have eaten poisoned mice, did not pose a food safety risk. “
This year DoC planned to spread enough poison over NZ to kill a over 100 million people. Ospri and “our councils” will spread more, not over just remote high country, but also on city boundaries and across national highways.
Avoiding contaminated trout is not easy, as so much of New Zealand is being poisoned and the trout swim.
Poison risk to DoC staff and visitors
In a series of media reports and social media posts, DoC, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has claimed 1080 is safe. I’m waiting for an OIA response to see if this is based on advice from DoC or her personal view. Similarly former Minister Maggie Barrie recently claimed 1080 is “safer” than tea to someone who reported 1080 poisoning.
Health and safety obligations
The possibility of harm from 1080 cereal poison dust, baits or contaminated carcasses in food or water is an obvious health and safety risk for staff and visitors to poisoned land. The person in charge of any business or undertaking (“the PCBU”) is primarily responsible for complying with Health and Safety laws. Responsibility extends to directors and other persons with significant influence, but the Minister of the Crown is exempt.
The purpose of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 includes:
(1) The main purpose of this Act is to provide for a balanced framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces by—
(a) protecting workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety, and welfare by eliminating or minimising risks arising from work or from prescribed high-risk plant; and
(2) In furthering subsection (1)(a), regard must be had to the principle that workers and other persons should be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety, and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work or from specified types of plant as is reasonably practicable.”
DoC has in some cases accepted responsibility for the health and safety of poison operations it manages on land owned by farmers and others. However the history of mis-applied poison baits, poisoned stock, strict MPI food safety obligations and the liability of the Berryman collapsed army bridge debarkle mean farmers should think extremely carefully before allowing poison on their land.
DoC’s position on health and safety risk from 1080 poison towards its own staff, compared to its visitors, is not consistent. Doc frequently tell the public that 1080 in water and in poison dust is safe.
My daughter’s year 11 outdoor education class was due to walk the Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National paras past of their NCEA assessment about the time that DoC announced it intended to spread 1080 poison over much of the park. DoC’s safety information said that rangers would knock on the door of huts along the multi-day walk on the morning of any poison drop.
My urgent queries to DoC for information were treated as an OIA request, and I was eventually advised that DoC did not intend to aerially poison that part of the Heaphy Track during the days my daughter and her class were there.
Thank you DoC for protecting my daughter and her friends, but what about all the other schools, tourists and other users of our national parks.
In contrast DoC’s own health and safety records show that for their own staff even a used 1080 poison bag is deemed a heath and safety risk. Add OIAhelicopter-spreading-poison-dust.png
If 1080 is a health and safety risk for DoC staff its surely also a health and safety risk of the rest of us.19-E-0383-DoC-OIA-Health-and-Safety-incidents
The most recent incident of 1080 poisoning a worker was in May 2019 at he Pest Control Research factory in Bromley Christchurch. Pest Control Research is 49% owned by West Coast Regional Council. The ownership of the other 51% appears to trace back to Duncan Cotterill Trustees Ltd, the law firm that acted for the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust “BWST”, a firm ironically which has a team specialising in health and safety.
BWST aerially spread 32kg of brodifacoum poison baits over 711 hectares of fenced and leased public reserve land immediately next to the Brook Valley motor camp. Several local residents reported ill health to the Nelson Medical Officer of Health after that aerial poison operation after exposure to poison dust. A report by the MoH in response recommends changes to the way brodifacoum can be used near residential areas however it is unclear if these recommendations have been followed.
1080 has been confirmed as the cause of the Bromley poisoning in an OIA from Worksafe, however we are still waiting for the report, which Worksafe estimated will take up to a year. In the meantime the last the public was told was that the worker was in intensive care and emergency services had not been notified until many days after the event
Landcare tests show 146/647 urine tests were positive for 1080 poison.
1080 also poisons our native birds
Cereal baits are also proven to poison an array of native birds. In recent years DoC has been very slow to test dead birds. However prior to about 2011 a number of studies were done. A summary in DOCDM-25436 states: “A range of native bird species have been monitored through aerial baiting projects on islands in New Zealand. Risks vary according to ecological niche and habitat and should be assessed on a case by case basis. In general … scavengers, predators and opportunist generalist feeders (eg gulls’ skua’ ducks, weka) can be at high risk, forest dwelling insectivores (eg robins, kiwi, tits) may sometimes be at risk, and nectar feeders (eg tui, hihi) are unaffected”
DoC’s published report shows that Brown kiwi, Little Spotted Kiwi, morepork and an array of other native bird species were poisoned by cereal baits. DoC has tried to differentiate between the risk of birds eating 1080 cereal baits and brodifacoum cereal baits however it is the cereal which attracts the bird, not the poison.
Consistent with this are the extremely high dead rates of tracked kiwi released into heavily poisoned areas such as Tongariro forest and Pukeha Mt Bruce.
An example of DoC acknowledging harm from 1080 poison for native birds is the “no-poison zone” created for released Takahe in Kahurangi for the 2019 aerial poisoning.
DoC realised that poisoning an estimated 16 to 25% of the endangered and hand raised Tahake was too serious their usual “it’s ok to sacrifice some for the overall good of the population” justification which they use to justify poisoning an average of 12% exposed kea.
The ongoing use of poisons that are known to poison and sub-lethally poison protected wildlife is very important in the context of the recent Supreme Court ruling on the definition of “hunt or kill” in the shark cage diving case. As a result of that decision and the Supreme Court’s finding that any kill or disturbance of wildlife is strict liability, any poisoners are exposed to prosecution and serious penalties.
Similarly health and safety laws have significant penalties when duties to identify and manage risks are breached.
One of my emerging interests is how to make the government more accountable to the public they are supposed to represent. Many of our administrative systems are challenged and not fit for purpose.
Lets see how DoC and the Attorney-General meet their constitutional obligations to uphold the rule of law and maintain public confidence in the administration of justice.
Seeking clarity…. but still waiting
I’ve sought clarity on DoC’s official position on whether 1080 poison is dangerous or safe by asking the current Minister Eugenie Sage about the most recent advice she has received about the safety of 1080. Im still waiting for her reply.
Lets see what she says, and what “our” public servants are telling her.
“Dear Minister of Conservation/ Associate Minister for the Environment Please find attached a recent public comment from former Minister of Conservation Maggie Barrie where she claims 1080 poison is safer than tea.You have also been reported in the past claiming 1080 is safe despite the EPA classifying cereal baits that contain just 15g of fluoroacetate per kg of bait as deadly poison and MinHealth toxicology indicating a single 1080 poison bait could kill a small child.I note you and your department also frequently claim 1080 is “biodegradable” and natural or equivalent to potassium fluoroacetate found in some overseas plants.
Please can you provide:
A) copies of the most recent briefing to you from DoC and from MfE or the EPA on the safety of 1080 poison and the safety of 1080 poison baits and any risks for wildlife, for farmers, to humans, to ecosystems and to our economy; and
B ) The most recent briefing you have received from DoC and from MfE or the EPA on the possible and likely breakdown products of 1080 in living organisms , dead organisms, in soil, in water and air. Please include any information you have about break down products of 1080 such as fluorocitrate, hydrogen fluoride, the greenhouse gas Freon/ methyl fluoride) and any other form of fluoride and the environmental, microbial and other factors which may affect the timing of the breakdown to any of these products.
C) the most recent advice you have been given from DoC and from the EPA about testing of 1080,fluorocitrate and other 1080 breakdown products in New Zealand including in the environment, in animals and in foods
D) the most recent information you have about the estimated number of animals killed annually by naturally occurring fluoroacetate in plants in Australia, Africa and America
E)if the most recent advice for any of the above refers to previous advice, please could you also provide the previous advice referred to.
F) please could you also provide copies of the most recent advice you have provided to cabinet on the safety and on the “biodegradability” of 1080 Poison and the economic risks for new Zealand good security and/ or tourism.
Thank you for your assistance”