EPA responds to sentencing in Christchurch chemical incident
29 July 2021
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) welcomes the sentencing for a chemical poisoning that nearly claimed the life of a worker in Christchurch in May 2019.
The worker at Pest Control Research Limited Partnership (PCR) was poisoned by highly toxic vapour while manufacturing sodium fluoroacetate, more commonly known as 1080.
He was hospitalised, and testing indicated a urine fluoroacetate reading more than 500 times higher than the WorkSafe exposure limit.
PCR pleaded guilty to four charges over the poisoning, and was fined $275,000 in the Christchurch District Court.
As the incident occurred in a workplace, WorkSafe was the lead agency in this investigation. The EPA provided technical input in the early stages, as the authority responsible for hazardous substance regulation under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.
“This incident serves as a warning of the potential dangers of working with hazardous substances, and why it is vital that operators understand and follow the rules,” says the EPA’s General Manager of Compliance, Monitoring, and Enforcement, Gayle Holmes.
“Manufacture of hazardous substances can be risky, which is why there are rules in place to protect people from these types of incidents.
“Manufacturers must ensure they are using the correct approvals, permissions and processes to carry out their business safely.”