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When Will They Ever Learn?

Media Release - 8 February 2010

When Will They Ever Learn?
After west Aucklanders suffered 3 years of aerial spraying of Foray 48B for the Painted Apple Moth, another round of aerial spraying is set to begin this week, this time of a herbicide to eradicate Crack Willow in Auckland's largest wetland area.
It is appalling that Waitakere City Council has approved the aerial spraying of Green Glyphosate (similar to Roundup) over 23 hectares of wetlands adjacent to Bethells Beach, said Helen Wiseman-Dare of West Aucklanders Against Aerial Spraying. No consultation has taken place and only 14 local residents have been notified with very little warning. The local primary school had not been informed and have no contingency plans in place to deal with any sick children. Local schoolchildren wait for their bus beside the wetland area. Community opposition including the presentation of a six hundred signature petition to the council in 2006 was successful in postponing the spraying but now residents are angry that the Council appears to be determined to ram it through over the wishes of the community.
The label on this herbicide states that it is "toxic to aquatic organisms and to avoid contamination of any water supply". As most are on tank water at Bethells residents are concerned their water supply will be compromised. The surfactant to be used - Pulse Penetrant, also clearly states on its label "Do not contaminate waterways". After a very much smaller trial area was aerial sprayed last year a large amount of brown slime was photographed covering Bethells Beach and the river. "There is no way of knowing what adverse effects this much larger amount of toxic chemicals will have on the marine ecosystem" said Helen Wiseman-Dare. Glyphosate is much more toxic than Foray 48B and residents are concerned that drift from the aerial spraying will pose a risk to their health as well as to those who visit the area to use the beach and the river.
The Council insists there will be no spray drift as spraying will be carried out only in perfect weather. Yet contractors have previously been observed spraying at Bethells in very windy conditions which are the norm, rather than the exception in this coastal area. Residents are asking: Who will pay their evacuation costs? Or compensate the local organic growers and beekeepers? 
The spraying is all on private land, yet DOC has given a grant of $105,000 for three years. "The question to be asked is: why is public money being used to spray on private land?", said Helen Wiseman-Dare. "And how many more aerial sprays will be carried out over this time period?".

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