Kaniere 1080 poison drop goes ahead despite protests

By Janna Sherman

West Coast anti-1080 campaigners made a last ditch effort on Saturday to protest an aerial poison drop around the Lake Kaniere water catchment.
Hokitika Fluoride Action Network chairwoman Jackie Douglas said about 10 people demonstrated outside the locked gates of the operational area in the Milltown Valley the final section of a massive 474,000ha possum control programme to be carried out on the West Coast this year by Tb Free New Zealand parent company OSPRI. Entry to the loading zone was protected by two security guards, but Mrs Douglas said two activists had managed to enter the drop zone on quad bikes to take video footage of any stray pellets.
The protest, one of only two staged by the anti-1080 network this year, was spurred by concern for both the public and private water catchments included in the 5340ha Kaniere operation area.
However, Tb Free NZ programme manager Matthew Hickson said any risks to water supplies had been “buffered out”.
“Our contractors have discussed these with both landowners and the medical officer of health, and where appropriate these have been excluded from aerial control.”
The Westland District Council, which adopted a ‘ridgleine to ridgeline’ exclusion zone policy around water catchments in 2009, was also consulted, Mr Hickson said.
“Their policy was kept in mind when we went through the consent process with the medical officer of health. Where there were any risks identified by the Ministry of Health, these areas were buffered out”.
West Coast medical officer of health Cheryl Brunton said yesterday exclusions of 200m of any water supply intakes, and 400m upstream of any water intake were put in place.
Immediate water testing had been carried out near the drinking-water intake of Lake Kaniere had come back clear.
“People on the Hokitika water supply can be confident in drinking their water supply,” Dr Brunton said.
“We did our first test within 24 hours, which showed no detectable traces of 1080.”
Further testing would be done after the next rainfall and the results would be made available to the council.
Meanwhile, the Department of Conservation has two new requests to the Ministry of Health to use the poison over 30,000ha of remote South Westland, including areas of Moeraki and the Landsborough Valley, by the end of the year.