Chemical Industry News – Summer 2020
Prosecution succeeds in Wedge-tailed eagle poisonings
A landowner from East Gippsland was convicted last month for his involvement in the misuse of agricultural chemicals resulting in the poisoning of Wedge-tailed eagles on his properties between June 2017 and April 2018.
The land owner was also convicted for failing to comply with conditions of an Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP).
The landowner pleaded guilty in the Bairnsdale Magistrates Court to six charges brought by Agriculture Victoria under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992.
On two of the charges the landowner was convicted and placed on an adjourned undertaking for a period of 12 months.
The conditions of the undertaking are that the landowner must be of good behaviour and must pay $25,000 to the court fund to be distributed amongst appropriate wildlife groups in Gippsland. In addition, the landowner was ordered to pay department costs of $3,870.
On the remaining four charges the landowner was convicted and sentenced to a Community Correction Order for a period of 12 months, under which he must perform 100 hours of unpaid community service work at the direction of Corrections Victoria.
The Magistrate described the offending as “calculated, unacceptable and disgraceful behaviour”.
In sentencing, the Magistrate also recognised the importance and value of the Wedge-tailed eagle to the community in general and, in particular, to the indigenous community.
The charges followed a comprehensive investigation by Agriculture Victoria that included chemical analyses of Wedge-tailed eagle and sheep carcasses seized from the property.
This case follows on from that of the farm manager, who pleaded guilty to two charges brought by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning under the Wildlife Act 1975 and was convicted for his involvement in this matter in September 2018, receiving 14 days imprisonment and a $2500 fine.
Agriculture Victoria Leading Chemical Standards Officer Natalie Myring said it was an offence for a person or persons to use illegal homemade baits under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992.
The investigation found that the landowner and farm manager were involved in the baiting of Wedge-tailed eagles using sheep carcasses laced with an insecticide from June 2017 to April 2018.
Ms Myring said the use of illegal homemade baits poses an unacceptable risk to people, other animals and the environment.
“The landowner was also charged with involvement in the commission of an offence by the farm manager relating to his use of a Schedule 7 poison without appropriate authorisation,” she said.
“There are strict controls that govern the legal use of Schedule 7 poisons under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992.
“It is an offence for a person to use any Schedule 7 poison without appropriate authorisation, such as an Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP).”
The landowner was also charged with offences relating to non-compliance with storage and disposal requirements of 1080 pest animal bait products. These offences were identified as part of the investigation however they are not linked to the death of Wedge-tailed eagles.
Ms Myring said 1080 pest animal baits were important tools in protecting primary production and the environment, however, they must be used in strict accordance with the label and ‘The Directions for the Use of 1080 and PAPP Pest Animal Bait Products in Victoria’.
“In this case the landowner stored the 1080 baits in an unsecured location that was accessible to unauthorised persons. The baits were also retained beyond the required disposal timeframe,” Ms Myring said.
For further information about the legal use of chemicals contact the Customer Contact Centre on 136 186.
Agriculture Victoria is benchmarking 2,4-D use
In October 2018, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) issued a new set of instructions relating to the use of all 2,4-D products – Permit 87174 – designed to minimise the risk of off-target damage caused by spray drift.
This permit was renewed in October 2019 and applies to any person using a 2,4-D product.
In 2019, Chemical Standards Officers commenced a series of audits benchmarking chemical use against the permit requirements in broadacre cropping. These audits are continuing during 2019/20, focusing on the dairy, broadacre cropping and grazing industries.
The APVMA permit requirements focus on spray drift restraints, record keeping and equipment setup. The audits provide an opportunity for 2,4-D users to provide feedback about their experiences and how equipment changes have impacted upon the efficacy of chemical application.
Chemical resellers and suppliers play a key role in educating chemical users about the requirements of the APVMA permit and best practice. In order to identify 2,4-D users, chemical resellers may also be contacted by Chemical Standards Officers and requested to provide sales records.
The information collected from the project will assist in maintaining the registration of 2,4-D products for use in to the future and minimising spray drift incidents.
The full permit can be accessed from the APVMA website and provides all the information to ensure users of 2,4-D products are meeting their obligations for the use of the chemicals.
To assist chemical users to comply with their record keeping requirements, Agriculture Victoria has developed a record keeping template which covers the additional fields required by the permit.
Download this template from Record keeping and formats.
For any questions in relation to your obligations under this permit, contact the Customer Service Centre on 136 186 and ask to speak to your nearest Chemical Standards Officer.
New template for sale/supply of 1080 /PAPP products
Agriculture Victoria has recently finalised a new template to record the sale or supply of 1080/PAPP bait products.
The template has been developed for use by individuals or businesses that sell by retail (not wholesale) 1080/PAPP to meet their record-keeping requirements under Section 38 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 when selling or supplying these products.
It is not a legal requirement for retailers to use this template however 1080/PAPP retailers must ensure that whatever record keeping system they are using meets the Section 38 requirements.
Download the record keeping template from 1080 and PAPP resources.
Bait use compliance audits
Agriculture Victoria’s Chemical Standards Officers are responsible for regulating the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, including pest animal bait products that contain the chemical 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) and PAPP (4-aminopropiophenone).
These products are registered and approved for the control of a variety of pest animals in Victoria.
A range of controls in Commonwealth and Victorian legislation define how 1080 and PAPP baits can be supplied, handled and used. These controls are designed to manage the risks of potential harm to the environment, human health and non-target species including wildlife, domestic animals and livestock.
The Directions for the Use of 1080 and PAPP Pest Animal Bait Products in Victoria (‘the DFU’) set out how 1080 and PAPP baits are to be used in Victoria to ensure compliance with relevant legislation. Non-compliance with the DFU and the directions on the 1080 or PAPP bait product label is an offence in Victoria.
Chemical Standards Officers conduct audits on an ongoing basis throughout Victoria in order to determine if an individual’s use of 1080/PAPP baits complied with relevant legislation. The audits also allow officers to provide advice on how users can make improvements in line with the DFU.
Should critical issues or offences be identified during an audit, Chemical Standards Officers will investigate the situation and undertake regulatory action if necessary. Bait users may be contacted at any time for an audit to be conducted.
The audit program conducted by Agriculture Victoria provides evidence that the use of these products is being undertaken done according to label requirements by the majority of users. When used according to the label the risk of off-target damage from these products is minimised.
Cancellation of Tokuthion Insecticide Spray on table grapes
Table grape growers are advised that as of 3 October 2019 it is an offence to use the product Tokuthion Insecticide Spray (prothiofos) on table grapes.
The use was cancelled by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) at the request of the registrant, Arysta.
In October 2018 growers were given a grace period of 12 months to use remaining stock. This period of grace ended on 3 October 2019, so the product can no longer be used in Australia.
It is anticipated that maximum residue limits (MRLs) for prothiofos on table grapes will be deleted by the APVMA. If any residues are detected in table grapes they will be non-compliant with grower’s legal requirements.
Agriculture Victoria will be monitoring for residues of prothiofos in table grapes as part of the Targeted AgChem Residue Program (TARP) for 2019/20.
Any detectable residues of prothiofos may indicate the illegal use of Tukothion Insecticide Spray. Growers of table grape, with prothiofos residues in samples will be contacted to investigate the cause of the residue.
Any growers wanting to dispose of unwanted chemicals should contact their local reseller, council or contact the industry funded program ChemClear on 1800 008 182.