Lack of Emergency Response Plan for Storage of 1080 Ecotoxin

S C McKee made this Official Information request to Department of Conservation

The request was successful.

From: S C McKee

Dear Department of Conservation,
Dear Penny Loomb,

Thank you for your letter of 9th January 2018 saying you would forward my letter on to the Whitianga Operations Manager for "his information". I have not had any reply nor have I heard back that it has been received by the Whitianga Operations Manager.

I then wrote to you on Feb 24th and am still waiting for a reply on the following questions.

When I previously asked DoC under the Official Information Act to send me the emergency management plan for the storage of 23,700kg of 1080 baits, at 20 Joan Gaskell Drive, Whitianga, I was sent the MSDS - Manufacturer's Safety Data Sheet for the 0.15%1080 possum baits.

In the MSDS it stated that in the event of a fire, the combustion of sodium monofluoroacetate would produce extremely toxic hydrogen fluoride gas. If this happened the firemen would have to be wearing full breathing apparatus.

Yet DoC stated to me that they were "not required" to inform the local fire department!

When toxic baits caught fire in a Murupara warehouse in 2009, the fire brigade not knowing of the bait storage, attended the fire and 18 people were hospitalised from inhaling toxic smoke.

I find it incomprehensible that DoC managers of this operation would not have done a risk-assessment and prepared a proper emergency response plan given the known risks described in the MSDS.

One can only conclude that DoC did not want anyone to know about this 4 month storage of 1080. In other words, the managers decided that this would be secret, and informed no-one, including the TCDC, the Community Council, adjacent residences even the co-tenants of the building. Is this correct?

Question 1 ( under OIA)
Whom did you inform about the storage of the ecotoxic baits in the Liquor King building? ( from June 8th to October 17th )

Question 2 ( under OIA)
When you read the MSDS, why did you not prepare an emergency response plan knowing that in the worst case scenario of a warehouse fire, extremely toxic gas ( hydrogen fluoride) would be produced, requiring evacuation of anyone in its path?

Question 3 ( under OIA)
When you read the MSDS, you would have read that firemen attending a fire of the baits would have to be trained in the use of breathing apparatus. Why did you not check with the Whitianga fire chief that they had that equipment and that his staff were trained in the use of breathing apparatus?

Every organisation has to have health and safety and emergency plans for a worst-case scenario. School teachers when taking students on a walk or a school trip have to do a Risk-Assessment and plan for contingencies. Managing hazardous substances such as 23,700 kg of Class A1 ecotoxic baits carries with it a huge responsibility for health and safety. Especially if it is being stored in the middle of a town, adjacent to other tenants in the same building,near homes and supermarkets.

The HSNO Controls for Sodium fluroroacetate cereal-based pellets state the following:

"You need an emergency response plan.
Refer to the Emergency Preparation section of Your Practical Guide.
"You need to refer to the safety data sheets for your substances to find out what personal protective equipment people using each substance need to wear. Also refer to the Keep Safe with Hazardous Substances section of Your Practical Guide.Under HSE, all substances require the use of protective clothing.
You need secondary containment."

Under the Official Information Act, I expect to receive a reply within 20 days, by the 6th April 2018.

Yours sincerely,

S C McKee

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From: Government Services
Department of Conservation

Dear S C McKee

On behalf of the Director-General of the Department of Conservation, I confirm receipt of your request for official information. Your request has been forwarded to the relevant business group for processing. You will receive a reply in accordance with the requirements of the Official Information Act 1982.

Yours sincerely

Emma Wolff
for Director-General

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From: S C McKee

Dear Government Services,
Thank you for acknowledging my request. I wish to make a correction. The heading for my request was meant to read: " Lack of a site-specific adequate emergency response plan."

Yours sincerely,

S C McKee

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From: Penny Loomb
Department of Conservation

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Good afternoon
Please find attached a response to your Official Information Act request.
Penny Loomb
Personal Assistant to David Speirs, Director – Operations
Department of Conservation | Te Papa Atawhai
DDI: +64 7 858 1007 | M: +64 27 536 6894 | VPN: 6007
Hamilton Office
Level 4 | 73 Rostrevor Street | Private Bag 3072 | Hamilton 3240
T:  +64 7 858 1000
Conservation leadership for our nature Tākina te hī, tiakina te hā, o te
ao tūroa

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