Here are two articles by Carol Sawyer reporting on DoC bungles that involved health risks to people, in spite of the Department’s assurances of safety. In spite also of the results reported health-wise, still the Department continues to drop the deadly poison by the tonne, every year, like a ‘veritable lolly scramble’ as one expert in the field has described it. These mishaps are not rare isolated incidents either. EWR
By Carol Sawyer
Further to this post, I received this message in 2017 from the late Lloyd Hanson, to post on my page :
“John Sinclair the Investigator was one of the original owners of Marlborough Helicopters and I believe sold out to Owen Dodson, who conducted this operation. I am not saying that Mr Sinclair’s summation was incorrect but surely considering his conflict of Interest it would seem prudent to declare this and step away – NOT SO!
I went in to the scene of the bucket loss a few days later and observed dozens of broken 1080 pellets amongst the smashed foliage – a poor cleanup !”
I do note that both the pilots received aviation safety awards, four years prior to this dropped bucket episode :
I did this post at the time too:
Fiona Stonehouse, one of the trampers who was rained on with 1080 poison by pilot Simon Moar, commented on the article:
“What the article does not say is that we were assured by a DoC worker that we would be fine walking the track that day before we even started the tramp. There was supposed to be a buffer zone of 20metres on both sides of the track which was a condition of our withdrawing our legal opposition submission. We went through the lengthy and time consuming legal process and made terms that we had no alternative but to accept and DoC failed to deliver to those agreed terms because of the bucket malfunction and their decision to continue with the drop despite the fact that they knew they could not comply with the terms of the agreement. It makes no difference what our political opinions on the subject are, we were told we would be safe and that we were allowed to be there and it turned out that we weren’t safe. No body is around this poison and that is what the knuckle heads who use and endorse 1080 fail to acknowledge,”
and when asked why she didn’t find a lawyer she wrote:
“We did find a lawyer who isn’t afraid to take on the government but she costs money and we have been opposing this bs for a long time now.
“Later she wrote:
” Elliot (Graeme Elliott, Principal Advisory Scientist, Dept of Conservation) admitted that our 2013 drop was an experiment at our hearing; there was a control area not being dropped on and Mt Stanley, which was aerially dusted with 1080. We haven’t seen the data from those experiments despite an initial request for them. How dare they experiment with deadly poisons on such a massive scale on a publicly accessible reserve ! We were also assured that 1080 would not be dropped in the waterways because they had a new trick(le) feeder that could accurately direct the flow of the pellets and the gps accuracy would keep the pellets out of the waterways. Well that was a farce from start to finish. Not only did they make sure 1080 was in every waterway but they also dusted people with 1080 – they had a malfunction with a clip holding the bucket on and dropped a bucket of 1080, people were injured and public were dusted with 1080 because of DoC’s ineptitude, and now while we are trying to get some acknowledgement of what went on nobody wants to know. Civil Aviation who should investigate all traffic accidents don’t want to know, the Medical Officer doesn’t want to know and I think DoC are hoping we will just quietly go away. Some of our group have relocated overseas because they became so disheartened with the bullshit but they weren’t natives to start with.”
Fiona’s parents, Doug and Phemie Stonehouse, were waiting in their boat for their daughter and her friends to finish walking the Nydia Bay Track. One of these helicopters flew straight towards and over them. They tried to duck under cover in the boat but say they were sprayed with dust. They have suffered ill health since.
I was reminded of this just the other day when I read a new article (Greymouth Star, 14 November, 2020) entitled ‘1080 Dust Tests “Inconclusive” ‘, which is about ESR’s experiments to see if 1080 dust travels . It mentions the two women picnicking near Greymouth, who were showered with 1080 fragments, and the article concluded with this short paragraph:
“Retired fisherman Doug Stonehouse also claimed he and his wife have suffered ill health after they were accidentally caught in dust from an aerial 1080 operation in the Marlborough Sounds.”
FIRST A 1080 POISON BUCKET IS DROPPED, AND NEXT PELLETS ARE RAINED ON TRAMPERS, IN A ‘MARLBOROUGH HELICOPTERS LTD’ DOUBLE-WHAMMY COCKUP!
This bungled 1080 drop on Mt Stanley/ Tennyson Inlet, Marlborough Sounds on 2 November 2013, may only be six and a half years ago, but how many people know about it ?
Story here : http://www.stuff.co.nz/…/Trampers-want-apology-after…
I was sent two reports in the post that give a bit more background.
1 )”Investigation into uncommanded bucket release” by John Sinclair, NZ AAA and NZ Helicopter Assn, Occurrence Investigator
2 ) “Notes on Aerial 1080 drop 2/11/2013, Mt Stanley, Tennyson Inlet” by Phil Clerke, senior biodiversity ranger, Dept of Conservation, Picton.
These two reports make for fascinating reading.
This drop was conducted by Marlborough Heliopters Ltd for the Dept of Conservation. Two pilots were involved, Owen Dodson and Simon Moar, flying two Bell Jetrangers, ZK-HJI and ZK-HZE. The senior of the two pilots, Dodson, was a director of the helicopter company. Simon Moar was completing only his second poison drop, “but he had considerable experience in other aerial agricultural operations and is a competent pilot with sufficient experience to undertake poison drops”, Occurrence Investigator, John Sinclair said.
According to the report by DoC’s Phil Clerke, Owen Dodson left the barge to commence his baiting, but arrived back “somewhat shaken” and minus his bucket. He had ” visibly received an impact above the eye ( I was later to learn it was from the breaking airline leading to the bucket ). I was unsure of the exact details but picked up that the bucket’s airline then struck the rotors as well. I later learned that (Owen Dodson) also lost partial sight in this eye.
“This report differs slightly from the Occurrence Investigator, John Sinclair’s, report which says ” …….Owen Dodson was carrying out a trickle feed of sensitive boundaries when the bucket and its load of 1080 suffered an uncommanded release from the helicopter. In the departure sequence a pneumatic control line severed and flicked up cutting the pilot’s eye”. Also the “pneumatic control line had connected with the OAT and cracked the windscreen”.
Despite this injury, Dodson flew himself to Blenheim and came back in an R22 with a long lifting chain, after which Moar went off ( with the chain presumably ) to recover the dropped bucket ! Once this was done, Dodson returned to Blenheim in the R22.
John Sinclair’s report has a great deal of detail about the bucket release, But he says ” I believe that the most likely cause of the uncommanded release of the cargo hook was the helicopter’s manual cargo hook release being activated, then not properly returned to the safe position before it was next used” ( Human error, in other words ).
Because of all this dropped bucket palavah, this meant that the less experienced pilot, Simon Moar, had to complete the sensitive boundaries – instead of now-injured Owen Dodson, who had been the one supposed to be doing it, being the more experienced pilot. John Sinclair’s report reads : ” In the course of doing this (Simon Moar) misjudged conditions and allowed the wind to carry a small amount of bait onto the Nydia Bay Track. (Moar was under considerable pressure because of the need to do another drop the next day in Golden Bay. While DoC had offered to postpone the operation there would be the logistics of barging all the bait back to Picton if the operation was curtailed. These pressures may have impacted on his subconscious, especially given that the weather windows this spring have been very few and far between.”
The bait falling “onto the Nydia Bay Track” unfortunately appears to have fallen on the trampers mentioned in the article below. In the Occurrence Investigator, John Sinclair’s, report he just refers to it thus: “The dropping of the bucket did however impact on an adverse environmental effect later in the day”. ( The adverse environmental effect presumably being dropping 1080 pellets on trampers.) In the DoC report, Phil Clerke says a DoC worker, Wendy, “radioed in to pass on that she had met trampers that claimed they were rained on, on the track, at the saddle”.
The trampers, incidentally, knew of the 1080 drop but had been told the track itself was SAFE as it had an exclusion zone of 20 metres.
Some questions I have are these :
1 ) Why did Owen Dodson fly a helicopter back to Blenheim and collect another one, when it had a cracked windscreen and he had a cut on his eye ! Not only that but he returned with another helicopter !
2 ) Why was a pilot who had only done one 1080 drop before, allowed to fly the sensitive boundaries, when as well as this the wind had got up – Phil Clerke says ” the wind was noted to increase in velocity, (Simon Moar) and I had a discussion about this. It was still considered workable.” So pellets land on trampers !
3 ) This question should be asked of DoC : Why on earth was 1080 poison loaded onto helicopters off a barge in pristine Tennyson Inlet ? The DoC report says ” A vacuum cleaner, dust brushes/ pans were to be used with the initial barge clean up to reduce wash down contamination. Wash down would only be used when no further bait fragments could be recovered.” ( Meaning 1080 dust would be washed into Tennyson Inlet, presumably ! )
John Sinclair used to own Marlborough Helicopters Ltd, by the way. Oh, and Marlborough Helicopters Ltd got a safety award !!!!
COMMENT AT FB:
“Tony Orman The Tennyson Inlet drop was a shambles. Toxic carcasses floating in the tide. No animal problem until DOC interfered. All it achieved was a rat population explosion followed by a stoat boom in numbers as proven by research, e.g Ruscoe 2007. And disruption of the ecosystem’s food chain. What is it that these fools in DOC who were responsible, don’t understand?”