West Coast Council not in gun over PCR worker poisoned by 1080 vapour

5:10 pm on 3 August 2021

West Coast ratepayers will not be in the gun for the hefty fine imposed on its former joint venture Pest Control Research, after one of its workers was poisoned by 1080.

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1080 (file image). Photo: Supplied

The Canterbury company was prosecuted by WorkSafe NZ and fined more than a quarter of a million dollars by the Christchurch District Court last week after an employee inhaled toxic vapour during the manufacture of 1080 poison in May 2019.

The man almost died and spent four weeks in hospital recovering.

The Regional Council's CEO Heather Mabin said the council was not a party to the WorkSafe prosecution and had no liability for the fines or court costs.

Council chair Allan Birchfield said the council still had a half-share in the company at the time of the accident and was informed of it.

The council surrendered its half-share in PCR last year, but retained ownership of the Rolleston building the company rents from the council.

"The accident happened at another building they have in Christchurch - we were told about it but it was not a factor in our decision to pull out of the company," Mr Birchfield said.

Until 2019, PCR had manufactured just the cereal baits used in 1080 drops but had begun making the active ingredient, (sodium monofluoroacetate) itself after experiencing supply problems.

Health and Safety requirements were ignored and workers were exposed to a highly toxic vapour from a failure in the manufacturing process, the court heard.

PCR was fined $275,000, and ordered to pay WorkSafe costs of $96,603 plus reparations of more than $8000 to the victim, on top of a sum it had already paid him voluntarily.

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