Gwen Gardner and Kathleen Bartlett say they are not 1080 protestors and that their picnic in a 1080 drop zone was not a publicity stunt.
The sisters say their health is struggling after they unwittingly found themselves in the path of poison – an aerial drop of 1080 on the West Coast.
They’re demanding answers as to how the small track they drove down was not signposted, and they’re stunned that there is no medical advice on human contact with 1080.
“I had a lot of pain in my stomach and I became quite giddy and breathless,” says Ms Bartlett. “Every night since I’m coughing, and I’m still coughing to this day.”
Ms Gardner says she constantly has a terrible “tinny” taste in her mouth and a numb tongue. The pair are extremely frightened, which is why they are speaking out about it only now.
“[We] feel it’s been covered up and we’ve been [told to] shut up,” Ms Bartlett says.
So what did happen on the sisters on June 12? It was an aerial drop of sodium fluoroacetate – better known as 1080.
“It had a great big green monsoon bucket hanging down beneath it,” says Ms Gardner. “So the helicopter itself was really low but then the monsoon bucket was hanging down lower still.”
At the time, the pair thought there might be a fire in the area, and that’s the extent of what they thought about it.
As the helicopter flew directly overhead, the women say the air became thick with dust. They then had to put their hands over their faces and put their heads down. With their heads down, they didn’t see pellets fall from above. They were completely unaware that they were picnicking in a 1080 drop zone.
The sisters stayed in their picnic spot a while longer until Ms Bartlett’s health took a turn for the worse. She says she could hardly breathe and struggled to walk. It was only then that Ms Gardner noticed the 1080 pellets.
Since then the women have had an anxious few months, scouring the internet for information. They say medical professionals have been unable to offer advice on what to do next or have been unable to tell them what they might be facing.
Ms Bartlett says she contacted the National Poison Centre, who told that she because she was “still alive, you’ll be alright” and that was it.
Her latest liver tests show that it is struggling to function.
“I Googled one of the first symptoms of 1080, and the first thing that happens is you get liver failure,” says Ms Bartlett.
For the first time in Ms Bartlett’s life, she struggles to breath and is now on an inhaler for asthma.
An investigation is currently underway and for that reason the West Coast Medical Officer of Health refused to make a comment for this story. However they did tell us the scope of the investigation includes identifying where the women were, whether or not it was within the operational boundary and if conditions and consents had been complied with. That includes public awareness at the main road turn-off, around 2km from where they picnicked.
Campbell Live found a sign warning of an aerial drop on June 12. The women admit they didn’t see this sign on the way in – only when they went looking for one on the way out, saying there was more vegetation surrounding it at the time.
The council has confirmed to them that the spot has since been tidied up; however, the women claim the sign, which includes a map, was added after the drop and that the “you are here” indicator is also in the wrong location.
Note from FAN:
This insecticide creates a hideous death for any creature exposed to it. It should be banned from use everywhere. For more information click here.