2015 September: Thomson Aviation Fined for Overspray: Pesticide: Carfentrazone-ethyl,

Thomson Aviation Fined for Third Incident of Pesticide Overspray

Media release: 8 September 2015

Thomson Aviation has been fined $2,400 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for using a pesticide contrary to the approved label, which resulted in an overspray that caused injury to people and non-targeted plants

Manager South West, NSW EPA, Craig Bretherton, said, on 4 May 2015, the EPA received a report from a neighbour adjacent to a cotton farm that was being treated with pesticides by Thomson Aviation.

“The neighbour claimed that her vegetable garden appeared to be damaged by pesticide overspray as brown markings were present on her plants and there was a significant amount of dead leaves at the base of her trees. She also claimed that on 30 April 2015, both she and her husband could physically feel the spray, with her husband experiencing a burning sensation in his eyes.

The next day the EPA attended the property and collected samples from the damaged plants. The results showed the pesticide Nail (active ingredient Carfentrazone-ethyl) was present in two of the three samples taken. Nail is a pesticide that is clearly labelled not to be used under unfavourable weather conditions, or from spray equipment as it may drift onto nearby susceptible plants, adjacent crops or pastures

The EPA required Thomson Aviation to supply spray records, chemical product labels and weather data for the 30 April 2015 incident. The records confirmed the aerial application of Nail pesticide, in addition to Prep (active ingredient Ethephon).

The EPA review of Bureau of Metrology data on the day of the incident showed a wind direction moving toward the neighbours’ property at a speed that was not appropriate for the aerial application of a pesticide.

Based on the findings of the investigations, the EPA is satisfied that Thomson Aviation had acted contrary to the Pesticides Act 1999 having used a pesticide contrary to its approved label and causing injury to persons and non-target plants. The company was fined $800 for each offence.

In making the decision the EPA also noted Thomson Aviation’s history of environmental non-compliance as the company had twice before been the subject of pesticide overspray investigations in Bilbul and Darlington Point NSW. On these occasions the company received a Formal Warning and Advisory Letter but the EPA has now issued these fine as an incentive for the company to improve its practices.

Mr Bretherton said, we do not want to see a repeat of these incidents and the company is on notice that any future incidents will attach a stronger regulatory response, including potential court action.

Mr Bretherton continued, “Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance. The EPA takes in a range of factors into account before delivering a proportionate regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, potential health impacts, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes. In this case, a penalty notice was the appropriate response.”

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/130251epacompl.htm

To report pollution incidents contact the EPA’s 24hr Environment Line on 131 555.