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1080 Poison Dropped Directly into Waikato Streams

1080 Poison Dropped Directly into Waikato Streams

Kathy White - Clyde Graf

27 November 2014

"Consents have been issued since 2000 that enable 1080 to be applied where it may enter waterways," Chris McClay, Waikato Regional Council's Director of Resource Use Group, confirmed in an email to Chair, Paula Southgate, on Tuesday. In fact, the Department of Conservation's application to spread the toxin across Mt Pirongia was even more specific: It stated "Bait will be applied to water."

A report named Waikato Region Aerial 1080 Report was presented by Councillors Kathy White and Clyde Graf to the Waikato Regional Councils Environmental Performance Committee on Tuesday. The two councillors are members of the Rates Control Team, and produced the controversial report after three recent aerial drops covering over 46,000 hectares of forested area across the Waikato Region. "The reasoning behind submitting the report was to alert the Waikato public to the fact that Waikato Regional Council has been issuing resource consents to drop this highly hazardous toxin directly into water, for over 14 years. I don't think the public are aware of this fact, and they deserve to know," said Cr White.

"In my view, erroneous information is being used in applications to obtain consents of up to 10 years," said Cr Clyde Graf. Consents are currently issued on a non-notified basis, which means the public has no ability to engage in the process or object. Toxic flight charts showed that in most of the aerial drops, no streams were buffered.

Clare St Pierre, Waipa District Council's Ward Councillor for Pirongia commented through a letter to the Chair, about the need to apply buffers to safeguard human health: "Without my intervention, there would have been no buffer for the Te Awamutu water supply stream for the Mt Pirongia aerial 1080 operation. I was shocked at the plan to provide no buffer zones in the water catchment area because I was well aware of the practice of baits being applied to mountain streams." Waipa District Council staff actively lobbied for the safeguards and ensured any extra costs were met.

Regional Councillors were also surprised to hear that 12 out of 14 water samples requested by groups engaged in pest control in 2013 were taken at 24 hours after the poison drop. This is despite the fact that the Landcare Research protocol says that ideally sampling should be taken within 8 hours of the drop, and again at 24 hours. As the protocol states, water samples taken within 8 hours of application are most likely to detect poison residues.

1080 has the highest hazard classification for both toxicity to vertebrates, and as a reproductive development toxin, and yet this toxin is spread across streams and waterways at the same rate as the land areas within the drop zones. The Department of Conservation, TBfree and the Regional Council all use the poison in the same way, the report states.

At the meeting, Councillor Stu Husband asked staff "how is it that dairy farmers are prosecuted for discharging effluent into a stream, but the Regional Council can drop a deadly poison directly into water with impunity?"

Clyde Graf, Chair of the Committee, stood down to co-present the report, handing the Chair to Tipa Mahuta. "Tipa did a great job of chairing the report, and we all came away feeling like we had made some progress," said Cr Graf. He went on to say that he had been filming 1080 poison drops with his brother Steve for over 8 years, "and on all drops, 1080 poison had been aerially dropped directly into the streams. It's nice to finally have confirmation, as this is something we've been documenting for years." Councillors White and Graf would like to thank staff and councillors for their assistance, and their willingness to hear this information.

"The Waikato Region 1080 Report" presented by councillors Graf and White can be viewed here.


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