Chem­i­cal sprayed near schoolkids

The Southland Times - - Front Page -

Christchurch City Coun­cil con­trac­tors in pro­tec­tive cloth­ing and masks sprayed weed killer as young chil­dren walked past on their way to school.

Di­rect con­tact with the spray used – Bio Weed-Blast – can cause ir­ri­ta­tion to skin and eyes.

The Christchurch City Coun­cil head of parks, Andrew Rut­ledge, ac­knowl­edged the ‘‘con­cerns that have been raised’’ and said: ‘‘We are work­ing with our con­trac­tor to con­sider reschedul­ing the spray­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.’’

Cloe Jones said the Mon­day morn­ing in­ci­dent at Pine­hurst Re­serve, which bor­ders Rus­s­ley Pri­mary School, was ‘‘ap­palling’’.

‘‘The spray smell was so strong that kids were dry-retch­ing and hold­ing their noses,’’ she said.

Jones said ‘‘eas­ily 100 peo­ple’’ walked through the park while spray­ing oc­curred.

One young boy got the spray in his face as he rode past on a scooter.

‘‘I’ve got my 6-month-old baby daugh­ter cry­ing in a pram, my 5-year-old has an im­mune dis­or­der, and the coun­cil are spray­ing them with who knows what as they try to go to school,’’ Jones said.

‘‘Why are they even spray­ing weed killer in the rain at 8.30am when kids are walk­ing to school, can’t they wait?’’

Rachel MacClure said con­cerned par­ents wanted to know what was be­ing sprayed but the con­trac­tors would not an­swer their ques­tions.

Con­trac­tors placed signs in the park in­di­cat­ing spray­ing was tak­ing place but the school was not in­formed.

Rus­s­ley School deputy prin­ci­pal Pam Stretch said: ‘‘The school was not in­formed that spray­ing would be happening nearby, in an area and at a time when chil­dren would be trav­el­ling to school. It is con­cern­ing if this is the case.’’

At the park, coun­cil con­trac­tors were pho­tographed filling their spray back­packs from a con­tainer of Bio-Safe from AGPRO.

A type of fatty acid, it has a hazchem code of 2XE and a la­bel warn­ing: ‘‘Keep away from chil­dren’’.

Rut­ledge said the con­tain­ers no longer con­tained Bio-Safe and were be­ing reused to carry wa­ter.

‘‘The la­bels should have been re­moved,’’ he said.

Rut­ledge said at Pine­hurst Re­serve, con­trac­tors used plant-based prod­uct Kiwi Care Bio-Weed Blast. ‘‘We are in con­ver­sa­tions with the con­trac­tor to en­sure that the cor­rect pro­ce­dures are fol­lowed, as health and safety is paramount,’’ he said.

‘‘All spray prod­ucts are sourced in the form of a con­cen­trate and di­luted ac­cord­ing to man­u­fac­turer’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

‘‘The man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ad­vice is that Bio Weed-Blast could cause an ir­ri­ta­tion if it was to come into di­rect con­tact with the skin or eyes. Any­one with health con­cerns should con­tact a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional.’’

VICKI AN­DER­SON/STUFF

Cloe Jones is an­gry that her two chil­dren – in­clud­ing a 6-month-old baby – were ex­posed to weed­killer chem­i­cals and wants to know why the coun­cil were ‘‘spray­ing kids with weed killer’’.

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