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.
A forklift was loading tandem trucks with bales of baits yesterday at AS Fiskevegn House, a blue-and-white warehouse over the road from the Anchor Restaurant & Bar in Vickerman St.
Charter boat operator Barry Bird, working on his boat in the area, was surprised and alarmed to find that the baits were being stored and transported from there for several weeks, with no warning signs on the road side of the building or its fence.
When the Nelson Mail took his concerns to DOC, it said they had three storage facilities in operation at Port Nelson. Only one housed poisoned baits, with non-toxic baits at the other two.
DOC wouldn’t say which of three places held the poisoned baits, or where at the port the other two facilities were.
Bird, who is a hunter but said he wasn’t a member of the Ban 1080 Party and wasn’t totally opposed to the poison’s use in predator control, said his concern was about public safety. He believed 1080 was highly toxic. “It’s a major hazard.”
Port dust was always blowing on to the site behind the Anchor Restaurant & Bar where he had been working on his boat, he said. Pedestrians often walked past No 45 but there were no signs telling them it was a 1080 bait facility.
“They wouldn’t have a clue about what’s going on there. If there was a fire or anything here and the wind was blowing the wrong way, this could be catastrophic.”
The baits were in shrink-wrapped bags but a forklift could pierce one, he said, letting out dust.
“There’s plenty of rural places they could store it where in the event of a catastrophic event, they wouldn’t pollute everybody.”
- Bird said none of the business people he’d spoken to in the area had been informed of the 1080 operation.
- The Anchor Restaurant & Bar manager confirmed that she knew nothing of the operation.
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. Non-toxic cereal baits are dropped first to encourage rats and possums to eat them, with poisoned baits dropped as a follow-up. “The 1080 bait is being stored, handled and transported strictly in accordance with Hazardous Substances and New Organism Act (HSNO) requirements,” Grant said.
The bait containing 1080 was in a storage facility secure and appropriate for storage of hazardous substances, with warning signs in place at the building’s entrances. Exact locations were being kept secret for security reasons.
Grant said the bait had been stored since May, and was primarily for use in Nelson-Marlborough as part of the Battle for the Birds programme to protect native species against the predator boom caused by this year’s beech mast. Grant said the bait was bagged and shrink-wrapped in pallet loads at the Whanganui factory.
“In one instance, some bait was re-baled inside one of the secure Nelson storage facilities.”
1080 is toxic to humans but the Ministry for Primary Industries says that to “get sick” you would need to eat at least 100g of carrot baits; drink more than 5000 litres of water in one sitting from a waterway directly contaminated by a poison drop; or eat at least 37kg of meat, in one sitting, from sheep that died of 1080 poisoning.
The Nelson Mail